Building the Friendly Airline Brand: Hospitable Cabin Crew for Digital Marketing Activities

Building the Friendly Airline Brand: Hospitable Cabin Crew for Digital Marketing Activities

Hayat Ayar Senturk (Yildiz Technical University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9783-4.ch010

Abstract

Hospitality, the hosting behavior that brings convivial and personalized services with the ultimate aim to provide psychological comfort to guests, is a growing success criterion for service firms in today's new, experience-based economy, and thus has received considerable scientific attention in the service industries literatures. In this stream of research, most of the researchers have examined airline hospitality by taking the view pre-flight, in-flight, post-flight tangible and intangible service quality factors in an integrative manner. However, recent researches have pointed out that the airline industry has evolved in a direction where the intangible factor, such as hospitality of the cabin crew, stands out rather than its concrete functions such as “transport.” In the light of this argument, the purpose of this study is, by examining various cases, to theoretically reveal the airline hospitality as a new and fresh perspective that need to be emphasized in digital marketing activities to create widespread impact on customer experiences.
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Introduction

Let's think about the moments that we were happy in a city, restaurant or hotel. Is it important that the service is presented correctly and fully, or is it important how we feel when the service is being offered? Some people do not like rainy weather. Why? Wet hair and clothes, muddy boots, cold, chills… But others like it very much! A cup of hot coffee, favourite book, fireplace and raindrops on window… Then we need to ask the question again! Is it important that the service is presented correctly and fully, or is it important how we feel when the service is being offered?

The global business environment is no longer regarded as a service economy but is called the “experience economy” by Pine and Gilmore (1999). The concept of experience economy asserts that businesses must organize unforgettable moments for their guests and that the experience itself has become the product. Lashley et al. (2005) presented a study on the unforgettable service experience, which revealed emotional aspects that were more powerful than the quality of concrete features in creating unforgettable experiences. The unforgettable service experience is the quality of the interaction between employees (host) and customers (guest), which significantly contributes to the development of emotional value. Guest satisfaction increases with the quality of the emotions rising from these experiences.

Since the economy is moving rapidly from the service economy to the economy of experience, the service organizations have focused on how they deliver their services to their guests rather than that they have delivered to their guests. For instance, airline companies build their competitiveness on “creating an unforgettable travel experience by providing an unparalleled comfort and convenience to their guests in all of their flight experiences”. In this respect, in order to reinvent the consumer experiences and enhance interactions with customers, digital marketing has become vital for the airline industry. Digital marketing literature indicates that there are several digital marketing strategies adopted by airlines such as e-mail marketing (Experian, 2014; Ryan & Jones, 2009), social media marketing (Punel & Ermagun, 2018; Seo & Park, 2018), website marketing (Powell, 2011) etc. In particular, past studies have aimed to explore the impact of digital marketing tools on consumer perceptions and behaviours (e.g. Wang & Tang, 2003). While these studies contribute to the literature by identifying or investigating the effectiveness of digital marketing tools, how those tools influence the consumer experiences has generally not been investigated in airline industry context. Hereby, the authors suggest that airline hospitality as an intangible factor should be highlighted to increase the effectiveness of digital marketing tools.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hospitality: Holistic approach that cares pleased and personalized services to provide psychological comfort to guests.

Friendly Airline Brand: Airline firms that provide with an unforgettable flight experience to passengers through hospitable cabin crew.

Digital Marketing: Digital technology-based marketing by which brands use to create greater interaction with customers and to visualize the desirable image in their hearts and minds.

Friendly Brands: Brands that produce both emotional and cognitive positive outcomes for their customers.

Hospitable Cabin Crew: Cabin crews that provide the psychological comfort of the passengers and offer pleasant and personalized services during the in-flight, namely, the hospitality quality of the cabin crew.

Experience Economy: Commercialization of customer experiences.

Airline Hospitality: To create an unforgettable travel experience by providing an unparalleled comfort and convenience to their guests in all of their flight experiences.

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