Airline passengers expect a flawless experience from booking and paying for their flights through to arriving safely at their destination. Optimizing every phase of the customer journey can help you take advantage of up- and cross-sell opportunities to unlock new revenue streams and build long-term customer loyalty. Here's how you can support your customers at every stage of their journey with you.
Phase 1. Pre-trip
To help reduce the chances of checkout abandonment, it pays to make paying for flights a simple, convenient experience. Giving customers choice about how to pay is critical. Include, for example:
- Locally preferred cards in addition to global cards
- Alternative payments options, such as buy now, pay later (BNPL), that let travelers spread the cost of their ticket
You'll need a payment solution that makes it easy to add and support a range of regional, new, and evolving payment methods.
For returning customers, a personalized experience can help drive sales. A tokenization service can provide you with data-driven insights based on a customer's history and preferences that let you, for example:
- Highlight promotional fares on their favorite destinations
- Remind them about ancillary services they've bought before (like travel insurance or a pre-booked hire car at the destination airport)
- Default to their preferred payment method with no need to re-enter payment details
Customers may even be tempted by subscription offers for premium services, such as fast-track security and boarding or larger cabin luggage. To keep subscriptions running smoothly, make sure you use an account updater service that automatically keeps stored payment credentials up to date.
Consider repeating offers for additional services in your reminder communications as the departure date approaches. Ideally, you'll be able to leverage data about your customers' purchasing history to help identify which services they're more likely to purchase at different stages of their travel planning. For example, someone who booked their flight six months in advance may start thinking about airport parking, car hire, or extra luggage a couple of weeks before the flight.
Phase 2. Day of travel
At the airport, build on travelers' familiarity with self-service check-in and bag drop by enabling them to pay for additional services in various ways, such as onsite kiosks, the airline app, and in-chat payments. Working with a partner ecosystem that enables great customer experiences both digitally and in person can help you offer frictionless options for on-the-spot payments like in-flight meals or excess luggage.
Imagine, for example:
- The bag-drop machine indicates a passenger's luggage is overweight
- The passenger receives a message in the airline app or via WhatsApp showing the fee to be paid
- The message includes a secure link to pay then and there on their mobile device—no hassle, no queuing, no delay
Once passengers are on board, you can look to benefit from further ancillary sales by making it simple to pay for refreshments, entertainment, and duty-free goods using contactless mobile PoS terminals or in-app stored credentials. Your payment partner should support you with the ability to accept offline payment for in-app purchases made on the plane.
Phase 3. Post-trip
After the trip, you'll want to keep in touch with passengers and encourage them to book their next flight. A tokenization service allows you to leverage each customer's purchasing history across channels and payment methods, delivering a 360-degree view that enables loyalty-boosting personalization of your communications.
If passengers are affected by issues such as a canceled flight or lost luggage, make refunds or compensation quick and easy to help turn an unfortunate situation into a great customer service opportunity. Choose a payments solution that provides real-time payouts capability and lets customers choose the card or account the payment should be sent to.
Ultimately, you may find that some payments are disputed. So, it's worth opting for a dispute management solution that helps you handle legitimate disputes smoothly for increased customer satisfaction, while reducing your potential revenue losses to friendly (or first-person) fraud.
Every incremental improvement you make to the customer experience can encourage the purchase of further flights and services and build customer loyalty—creating opportunities for both immediate and longer-term capture of additional revenue.
If you're looking to improve your payment capabilities across multiple stages of the customer journey, we'd love to chat. Request a consultation with one of our airline industry experts.
Coming soon: the third blog in our series, which will look at how a future-proof payment infrastructure can help you prepare for take-off. And in case you missed it, read our previous blog on using secure payments to unlock new profitability.