Our chat with Roy Scheerder, Commercial Director, transavia.com
From A Traveller’s Lens
Personalization is so much more than just recuperating an abandoned shopping cart; it will require a lot of perseverance, leadership and investments, says Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Roy Scheerder, Commercial Director, Transavia
Recognizing passengers when they get in touch with airlines via any device, any channel, and aiding them with relevant messages and offers as per the phase of their journey is something the industry is diligently pursuing.
Is the requisite technology in place to achieve the desired level of personalization?
Roy Scheerder, Commercial Director, Transavia talks about what is being currenlty achieved and what is complex, and CAPEX intensive when it comes to personalization. Excerpts from interview with Airline Information’s Ritesh Gupta:
Ai: What drives you to excel?
The Icelandic ash cloud eruptions of 2010 really showed the industries weaknesses in terms of its ability of service recovery and customer service. Despite all best intentions of airline staff to manage the hideous situation, airlines were unable to track their passengers, communicate with them and offer alternative solutions. These learnings drive me to excel in passenger experience, both in the daily happy flow as during disruptive incidents.
Ai: As a traveler, what excites you most about air travel today?
Travelling is increasingly the new standard for mass mobility. The rise in point-to-point connectivity, combined with the increased accessibility in terms of fares and self-service, really impacts the way we live as people globally. The world is our village, and today’s air travel enables new social interactions, cultures, business models and strong economic growth.
Ai: And what would you like to see improving as far as operations of airlines in general is concerned?
Traditionally and remarkably, airline operations tend to be internally focused, or at best focused at the ecosystem of direct stakeholders, such as handlers, airports, ATC. However, our consumers, the passengers, are kept at distance from relevant information and engagement. On the other hand, the digital and social revolution have powered our consumers to be far more informed than many of the internal stakeholders, which drives frustration about the airlines and airports incompetences to involve and inform them much better. As a typical example: passengers standing at a gate are fully aware of the actual arrival time of the incoming aircraft, and its delay, while the formal gate information still communicates no delay.
Ai: Do you often catch up with what technology or devices have to offer to travelers, and accordingly delight yourself as a traveler?
For me, the technology revolution is fully centered about the features of mobile. It’s personal, it’s relevant and always works. It gives me the location based services, it gives me the entertainment and it gives me the ability to be productive in a business context. Combined with Wi-Fi on board, such as with Delta Airlines, it allows me to continue my routines in the air.
Ai: How do you use your own experiences to enhance your own mandate in this sector?
As a marketer, I try to avoid personal experiences and attitudes in my business reflections. In many cases, the target audience of Transavia does not match my personal preferences. However, I am a strong believer in the power of technology and digital. I push this believe into all what we pursue in product and service developments.
Ai: Can you cite examples of some of your inspirations/ experiences as a traveler and how you incorporated the same in your work?
Looking at how my children consume media while travelling, i.e. irrespective of the richness of the provided in-flight entertainment on board they prefer to use their own tablet, this drove me to push the new entertainment concept for Transavia. People can use their own device, select content upfront and entertain themselves when and how they like.
My excellent experiences with the Delta Airlines app, drives me to develop passbook boarding card integration and to work on location based services towards, around and at the airport.
Ai: What do you make of the whole conversation around personalization? Where do you see it in digital experiences offered from year on?
Personalization is a very powerful concept and, finally, the technology is getting into place to really start implementing the first bits and pieces. However, looking at the massive amount of work still to be done in the digital space, it will take another five years to develop personalization as a key value driver. Then again, personalization has many different angles and maturity levels. Pricing seems to a relatively simple dimension to start with, as many predictive analytical tools become available, without impacting the operational, legal and administrative compliance. Contextualizing user experiences is already taking place based on device recognition, i.e. responsive design, but using location, social and previous purchase behavior for manipulating sequencing of offers, content provisioning and service differentiation is really complex and CAPEX intensive. Personalization is so much more than just recuperating an abandoned shopping cart; it will require a lot of perseverance, leadership and investments.
Ai: What according to you is the over-rated concept/ theme in the travel sector?
Loyalty by means of loyalty incentive schemes. Consumers tend to be less and less impacted by current loyalty schemes; the typical value of miles is eroding, while the increased competition on routes amplifies the relevance of price in the purchase evaluation. Loyalty systems can not cope with the price differences, resulting into internal price pressure, leading to loss of affordability of miles accrual, leading to loss of effectiveness of the overall program. Hence, a negative spiral. Airlines should pay more attention to the power of loyalty by means of excellent customer experience.
Ai: What according to you is the next big thing in air travel?
Digitalizing the full travel journey, eliminating the seams between commerce and operations, between on the ground and on board, between airlines and airports, between passengers and employees. Relevant, personal, always on.
Ai: What do you make of all the talk about airlines being helped with setting up of unique customer and recognizing every passenger throughout their trip planning and booking?
The concept of unique 360-degree customer profiles fits into the overall personalization strategy, in which the customer profiles is one of the data dimensions (next to location, device, time, etc), that will drive customers insights. I believe most likely that this data will be used for commercial optimization purposes, such as pricing and acquisition costs, rather than improving the customer experience.