What makes Alaska Airlines a lovable airline brand? In conversation with Greg Latimer
Once in a while, you have a conversation that makes you believe again, that there’s an alternate to trying to nickle-and-dime customers to make money at an airline. That is, by providing such exceptional customer service and brand delivery that people come back to you because they like flying with you.
I recently had such a conversation with Greg Latimer, Managing Director of Brand and Product Marketing at Alaska Airlines. He made me believe again, that an airline brand is indeed what it does, not what it says it does.
How does Alaska Airlines build customer loyalty?
When you hear Greg’s thoughts, you know you’re talking to an industry veteran. Alaska Airlines is well known for having very loyal customers, partly due to the rewarding loyalty program that they have, but there are many other factors, as I discovered.
Greg reveals that Alaska Airlines is religious about focusing on its primary brand differentiators, which drive customer loyalty, such as its caring customer service (for which the airline has won numerous awards.) Moreover, since what gets rewarded gets done, employees were rewarded at least $900 each last year, when customer service metrics were met.
Alaska Airlines also involves its customers in being part of the brand – literally. Senior executives are in close touch with the frequent fliers, they have customer panels, and recently even got a student to design a plane’s livery through a “Paint-the-plane” competition! And passengers then return all this love back, by choosing the airline over its competitors.
Alaska Airlines strives to make travel easier (no, really!)
Greg reveals that the airline has been a pioneer in using technology inovatively to make travel easier. They were the first to introduce self-check-in kiosks at the airport, which is a common sight now. Alaska Airlines was also the first to have a “live online travel assistant” named Jen, to help travelers out. Jen still sits pretty on the top-right corner of AlaskaAir.com.
Greg has some amazing gems that he reveals in this interview about airline branding. Enjoy the interview!