Digital innovations and social media have always been well adopted by the travel and leisure sector. They are more aware than most that staying ahead of the curve is critical to ensuring they remain competitive. Now, more than ever, digital is being seen as the ultimate weapon to help provide an superior customer experience and engagement and it seems the battle is now on to ensure they are embracing it quickly and effectively.
Easyjet vs. Ryanair – the mobile customer
Last year, that famous team who wear orange - Easyjet, not us - “wiped the floor” with RyanAir (Ryanair’s words, not ours) when they introduced huge customer service improvements, including multi-lingual homepages and the big one being mobile boarding passes. This time last year Easyjet were simply trialling mobile boarding passes. A year on and near to 5 million app downloads later, they have rolled it out to over 100 airports across Europe.
... Meanwhile, the competition in the blue and yellow strip - that would be Ryanair - stood still and made no changes or improvements and this month they reported their first third-quarter loss since 2010. They are now desperately seeking to regain some lost ground by putting the focus – as Easyjet have successfully done – on customer service and will be launching a number of new initiatives over 2014, including mobile boarding this summer, which is set to help them win back their customers by making things nice and easy for us poor travellers !
Virgin vs. BA – the wearable tech revolution
We are well aware of the fact digital innovation progresses at lightening speed. You just get to grips with one thing and another thing launches to make your life as a marketer that little bit harder. But equally, this is what is so exciting about digital. One minute you hear about this crazy idea like 'Google Glass', and the next minute you're being greeted by a Virgin concierge, looking rather space age - wearing yes, you guessed it, Google Glass - in the Upper Class Lounge at Heathrow T3! Something that is getting rather a lot of press right now.
So what happens when you arrive? They greet you with a friendly ‘Hi Clare, lovely to see you back so soon’ (yes I travel upper class quite frequently in this hypothetical blog) and continue with ‘your flight is scheduled to leave on time and Bora Bora is a scorching 83 degrees right now” (she is of course telling me about the weather in my rather luxurious hypothetical destination).
But are Virgin Atlantic using this as a gimmick or, is it a shift in customer service as we know it? Well what we do know is its happening, and if we think back to how tablets and smartpones transformed customer experience in the sector, we should really be standing up and taking notice. It’s certainly the kind of thing we have come to expect of Virgin, and when we look at the way in which Easyjet stole the lead on Ryanair in the space of a year, it seems plausible that something like the use of Google Glass could be the key differentiator in the BA vs. Virgin battle at the higher end of the market.
Note: If anyone wants to pay for me to travel Virgin upper class to enable me to do some proper research into just how much of an improvement the introduction of wearable tech is having on the customer experience, I would be more than willing!
Read the Virgin Atlantic press release