Engaging the captive customer – Airlines and airports sitting on a gold mine of engagement opportunities

Some food for thought…

In my MasterClasses, I often ask, “How long is your brand engagement with a can of Coke? How about with Starbucks?” The answer is about 5 mins for Coke and about 90 mins for Starbucks.

Now, if I were to ask you how long is your brand engagement with an airport? How about an airline? The answer can range from at least two hours to over 24hrs! So why is it that our time spent in an airport (especially after security) is the most boring? How is it that airlines have 24 hrs with their customers captive, and yet service recovery is an issue if something goes wrong? It’s because the old rules of branding that would apply to Coke and Starbucks don’t necessarily apply to airlines and airports!

When we released our white paper on airline branding and introduced the 6X model, the premise was that branding for airlines and airports is different due to the length of brand engagement. What would Coke pay to have a brand engagement of two hours? How much more profit do you think Starbucks would make if the customer sat there for 24 hours, rather than in a plane?

Think about it!

Now, think about what you can do to leverage the captive audience at your airport, or in your airplane. There are already good examples. Changi Airport has a butterfly garden and a huge slide! KLM surprises people while they’re waiting. Cebu Pacific has flight attendants that dance and perform magic tricks on-board.

So, what can you do differently in 2012 to drive more revenue from the captive customer? How can you engage them better? How can you make them happier?

Food for thought…

P.S: Some interesting thoughts on this have recently been shared by Ogilvy’s Rohit Bhargava and Oracle’s Adarsh Pete. Sumit Roy wrote a highly acclaimed guest post here last year as well.

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