In the world of Travel and Hospitality, and like many verticals within it, Aviation is incredibly competitive. Companies that are growing and excelling are creating unique stories, value propositions and experiences for travellers that make travelling more enjoyable and easier than ever, both online and offline.
At the Adobe Summit last week I listened to some of the digital leadership team of Avianca Airlines talk about how their keen focus on creating the world's best digital experience for guests is changing the game for their airline. Having started their airline only 10 years ago with about 30 airplanes flying domestically in Columbia, they are now the second largest airline in South America with over 170 airplanes, seeing continued international and continental market share growth.
There were several things they changed over the past decade in their infrastructure, positioning and technology that helped them establish a foundation that has become their "beginning". But ultimately, their growth and success came with a new focus on the customer experience first.
"Experience" is what all people are looking for. They are looking for a positive feeling tied to their own goals and aspirations in whatever they buy, and Avianca realized that they wanted to be the airline to do that for their guests. Further, they wanted to bring this feeling of positive aspiration in every touch point of their digital experience too.
To do this, it required united leadership, a strong vision and a change in their culture to support it.
They chose to be better at the following elements of their approach and culture:
- Agile - to adapt to this new reality
- Innovative - to challenge the status quo
- Empowered - to have the power to decide
- Data driven - value of information
- Process / Product oriented - to maximize efficiency
"We ingrate our partners and ecosystem under one common objective... to transform Avianca into a digital company that flies airplanes."
They defined a digital transformation strategic based on three key pillars:
- Digital Customers
- Digital Operations
- Digital Enterprise
They quote "Our customer must be at the centre of our world." Avianca Airlines started their journey two years ago by doing immersive research to learn about their customers on a granular level. They interviewed everyone from past and new guests to on the ground team members servicing planes and transporting luggage. They then created an entire customer landscape and persona ecosystem around their deep learnings. The process was supposed by a physical and digital operational journey.
Once they completed mapping out this journey, they started drawing how and where each of their newly defined personas would interact with their offline and digital touch point at every single step. Not one rock was left unturned and not one question was left unasked. They imagined, discussed and mapped out everything. They especially designed a journey driven by understanding different customer mindsets and projected needs and wants. This was key for their expansion, positioning and impressive growth over the past few years.
Avianca aligned channels, content and platforms towards each guest's envisioned journey based on the understood mindsets and personas from their deep research and discovery process. They continuously asked, "How can we continue to optimize the customer experience to enhance their journey at every step of the way?"
Their tech and analytics suites were completely out of date or lacking, so that was the first thing they fixed, and they partnered with Adobe to do it. They needed the insights and perspective so they could create their positioning and go-to-market plan, and the most seamless user experience every step of the way.
Today, they are at a step where they can invest more in Innovation. They have changed their culture to be an "experimentation culture" where they set out to learn > test > learn > grow > repeat. They are not worried about failures, but rather embrace the learnings and changes they can implement quickly and with agility to improve incrementally each day.
Increases in revenue and market share
Avianca Airlines became agile and efficient because of their new cultural mindset. They started with simple AB tests in every area of their digital experience (marketing, website, booking experience), etc. As a result, they saw increases in revenue and market share by over 300% in just a couple of short years.
Now that their foundation is in place and they have a clear vision and culture to support growth, they will continue to push the envelope in regards to what they can do to enhance the customer experience, simplifying and speeding up an enjoyable and personable process for their guests.
As a marketer or business leader, I challenge you to think about what you or your organization can do to push the envelope and create a structure to support putting your customer experience first. To accomplish this, it will be a collaborative effort between vision, culture, understanding your customer, having the right technology and data, and an operating system to support it.