How Chatbots can help improve airlines brands

Jan 15, 2020

Chatbots / AI can help airlines extend their brand presence beyond the cabin and provide support to customer service team. 




Airline marketers have a problem. Well, they have many, but today there’s one we’d like to talk about. It comes from a suggestion by one of our colleagues who spent more than 10 years working in the airline industry. It is one of those issues many marketers don’t really want to admit to.

People travel to get to places. Airlines fly them there, but the part of the trip they handle is usually the most stressful and least liked one. If people really flew for the pleasure of the experience, airlines could just fly around in circles over the airport and save themselves a lot of problems. But in the real world, all the best memories and the reasons why people travel happen away from the airline and its brand.

The brand-presence gap

As a result, most of the positive associations of the trip are made with the destinations and local service providers like tour companies or hotels, and all the “less-positive” ones are made in the stage of travel managed by the airline. Smart airline marketers have long tried to extend the presence of their brand beyond the cabin and into the destination itself.

We have seen plenty of campaigns that tried to do this, usually with some form of app or guide that the traveler had to download. The challenge is that actual use rates have always been low because of the friction created by downloading the app and remembering to use it. If we add to this the high costs of developing the solution it is easy to understand why airlines have not pressed on with these solutions.

Thankfully, today’s technology and the increase in mobile internet access abroad offer a ray of hope in the form of chatbots and AI. Data shows us that travelers are completely addicted to messaging apps, with market leaders such as WhatsApp being opened on average more than 23 times a day by each user.

A well-designed, custom-built, chatbot can easily fill this brand presence gap by acting as a local concierge and answering questions using both its own knowledge base and by seeking additional information, such as weather data or directions, from the internet. It would not require the installation of any additional app, and it would naturally rise to the client’s top of mind by being present on their favorite messaging app.

Supporting customer service teams

The same chatbot could also take over customer service tasks and work in tandem with the airline’s CRM and internal systems to provide things like boarding passes, sell upgrades or deal with other related issues. Some airlines have already started working on this path but most of the efforts have been focusing on some operational issues like check-ins and boarding passes, and have not yet expanded into the brand-presence gap that we mentioned.

To help you learn more about how your airline could start using chatbots to fill the gap and get ahead of the competition, we have decided to make our team of experts available to you for free. You can reach out to them!