Introduction

Bricks of loyalty:

Despite the extant literature on customer loyalty, it is recognized that the psychological processes behind customer loyalty and commitment are still ill understood (Pritchard et al. 1999) (1). The fundamental guidance system for all human responses is powered by its emotional palette. Thus, to understand its underpinnings and moderate it to favor an organisation within limited extend, an deep understanding of human psychology is important.

Total customer-loyalty is the Holy Grail that all organisations seek in order to meet their business objectives and bolster financial bottom-lines. Every organisation has the fantasy that their customers would remain totally loyal to their business. If this could be achieved, they would remain profitable forever. This is a dichotomous thought because, if all customers would restrict their loyalty to a few organisations, then customer acquisition-the manna for business growth would grind to a halt, killing expansion and new initiatives. Thus, disloyalty within varying degrees is a reality and a necessary evil.

Reality is far from fantasy, and humans will keep shifting their loyalty at varying levels as they are by nature promiscuous in all their relationships. Their ability to think intelligently enables them to explore various combinations and permutations in every situation and choose what is most favorable to them.

The “sense” of loyalty seems be a part of the survival instinct. It helps people come together and live within groups & undertake tasks that would otherwise have been impossible to execute alone or in small numbers. This human tendency to cluster together is what marketing experts call “relationship-proneness”. In this clustering, the individual is willing to let collective needs predominate over his personal needs. This requires high levels of commitment that can only emanate from a strong, consensual and positive state of mind.

Among the various factors that affect customer loyalty, the sense of commitment comes across as major. In the literature on organizational psychology, Allen and Meyer (1990) distinguish between affective, continuance (calculative) and normative commitment. The differences between these three types of commitment reflect the psychological state that binds the individual to the organization. Affective commitment refers to the emotional attachment to an organization, while continuance commitment refers to the costs that individuals associate with leaving the organization and the normative component refers to individuals’ feelings of obligation to remain with the organization. They argue that a more comprehensive understanding of the link between commitment and loyalty will be achieved when all three types of commitment are considered simultaneously (5). Pritchard et al. (1999) argue that an analysis of commitment ‘should move beyond a general expression of attachment and incorporate an understanding of the psychology inherent in binding a person to that disposition’ (p. 334). They distinguish information processes, identification processes and volition processes as antecedents of commitment. (2)

Many organisations have spent valuable resources in implementing a loyalty program to retain existing customers and attain new ones. While many have succeeded, the others are still struggling recoup the expenses and to identify what went wrong in the whole process. A Loyalty program is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It should address the stimulus-response system of its targeted customers based on actual behavioural data over a period of time. People within different segments exhibit differing behavioural traits & the stimulus that elicits a desired response seems to be varied too. The variety of behavioural responses by same people within different groups is truly complex. Basic understanding of the human stimulus-response to emotional manipulations can be understood from the classic “Hawthorne study” & B.F. Skinner’s theory of “operant conditioning” and his proposition and exploration of possibilities of the “token economy”. The rewards offered through a loyalty program not only aim at eliciting the right behaviour, but also reinforce it so that it ultimately becomes the part of the person’s shopping psyche. Eliciting the right response is not just the function of the rewards offered, but all also includes a lot of other factors including the overall experience that has been nomenclatured as “experiential-marketing” in today’s parlance.

By being the member of a loyalty program, a subscriber by default becomes the part of a larger community. Like every group, this community is also guided by certain norms and rules-predominantly set by the principal organisation that owns the program. The acts of accrual and redemption forms the basic rules and constant tactical promotions that have a different set of rules forms advanced rules that form the part of the standard operating procedures that guide the members of the community. Community formation being the first step, successful conversion of the members into a “psychological-crowd” remains the key. Psychological crowds are by nature extremely prone to the power of suggestibility. This vulnerability towards suggestion can arguably be achieved by constant and relevant communication. In marketing terms the tactical and strategic promotions that are used to constantly communicate to the members serve the function of active suggestion. Physical and emotional proximity between the members can be achieved by creating activities specially created for them like a family day-out, movie premiere, tickets for a play etc. These activities re-assure each member that as there are many like them who think and act similarly thus, validating their membership to the group.

What applies to an individual applies to a group-successful loyalty programs are those that leverage the emotions that guide human behaviour and channelise them towards limited behaviour modification resulting in regular and incremental financial returns for the organisation. The human mind craves for routine and any incentive that allows one to profitably (by being rewarded) continue dealing with familiar organisations is a winner.

Loyalty programs are dictated by market dynamics. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity and a vital tool for survival for any business across industries. This is easy to understand when we realise that the market resides nowhere but in the collective consciousness of consumers.

Loyalty-the airline perspective

Like any business, the airline industry has organically grown to many times its size since the first commercial aircraft began operations. With almost every nation today owning a “national” airline and the numerous private airlines glutting the sky, the passenger has never been spoiled for choice. Air travel itself has come down from a few notches in its positioning with ticket prices hitting realistic levels and from a luxury, it has become a necessity.

The process of globalization has resulted in creating new inter-cultural and inter-national dependencies. In the new & bold “flat world”, political boundaries have become transparent. Business or personal travel has picked up and considering that today, time is perceived as more valuable, air travel has naturally become more popular. With conspicuous consumption attaining added respectability, even services are treated at par with products. It may be safely said that today the consumer has truly been crowned “King”.

According to a Datamonitor study, the global airlines industry generated total revenues of $318.6 billion in 2005, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% for the five-year period spanning 2001-2005. Passenger volumes increased with a CAGR of 5.5% between 2002-2006, to reach a total of 2,490 million passengers in 2005. The performance of the industry is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated CAGR of 8.3% for the five-year period 2005-2010 expected to drive the industry to a value of $475.3 billion by the end of 2010 (3).

With demand reaching high levels, the battle has focused on cornering maximum business by individual airlines. Loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs as they are known within the airline industry have already proven its efficacy as effective marketing weapons helping the individual airlines and alliances differentiate their service features and reduce core marketing expenses. Since the target acquisition has changed from large groups to smaller demographic groups or even individuals, a shift in firing mode-from assault to precision is but a natural process.

Increased business opportunities have throw up its own unique challenges and airlines in their bid to maintain profitability has had no choice but revamp, invigorate and empower alternative marketing tools like FFPs. FFPs are psychological marketing initiatives that focus on the emotions of the target prompting a change that drives them not only in thought, but action as well. Which means, over a period of time, the target customer is encouraged to if not actually make a purchase, at least find out more about the offer made. This most of the times is the beginning of a transaction.

Like everything in the universe, Loyalty programs have gone through its share of evolution as well. From primitive stamp & other coupon based ones, it has come a long way and is today almost entirely software-driven offering better flexibility through intelligent automation. The transformation of frequent flyer programs, kick started by the deregulation of the US airline industry in 1978 and extensive computerization within the industry has been rapid in recent times.

The key to any successful business is informed investment. For effectively spend money to maximise returns, deployable data is a crucial component for any organisation. Like all businesses, the airline Industry too is bound by the Pareto principle of 80:20. Since all customers are not same, it becomes important to identify the most “valuable” customers. A sophisticated data-capture system as a part of the loyalty program helps in identifying these customers and their Life time value (LTV). By identifying wallet-share, the customers can be identified and incentivised. This narrowcasting also results in better ROI on rewards and communication expenses. FFPs like all loyalty initiatives is the result of a bargain. For repeat and consistent business, the airline offers rewards to the customer who in return gets a better ROI on his spend and responds by patronizing the airline.

Data Management:

The ultimate objective of FFPs is information. It is gathered through data collation and analysis and the success of a loyalty initiative primarily depends on it. It’s not just any data but the right fields that it captures and the customer behaviour patterns that it brings out which helps the airlines in fine tuning its strategies and fortifying its bottom lines.

In 1981, when AAdvantage was launched by American Airlines, it had a 150,000 best customer database. Today, the figures have swelled many times introducing new complexities. These huge databases potentially offer tremendous business opportunities if mined properly for information. Extracting precision information by slicing and dicing the available data require sophisticated technologies to manage and derive analytics that would ultimately help the airlines retain and obtain business.

Rewards Capability:

The customer service expectations have undergone the natural evolution process and are at a higher plane today. They are conscious of the fact that their business is valuable to the industry and the individual airline. In order to meet elevated expectations, it has become essential to offer varied, exciting and obtainable rewards in two timescales-tactical and strategic. The challenge for the airlines lies in constantly identifying innovative rewarding methodologies that will keep the customer excited and participating without compromising on its financial bottomlines. Thus, apart from maintaining their own proprietary FFPs, most of the airlines have also become part of alliances like Star Alliance, Skyteam or Oneworld the three top alliances in the world or smaller regional groupings. Alliances promise seamless service to passengers across their joint networks with each alliance member giving the appropriate level of reward and recognition to each other’s members. Proportionate rewards are here to stay and there is no escape from it.

It is a tribute to the flexibility and appeal of FFPs that it has expanded and accommodated related but non-flying partners like rent-a car services, tour operators, hotels etc. Many FFPs have also successfully tied-up with natural transaction aggregators like credit cards to plug-in retail into the accrual eco-system. Though these businesses are in reality outsiders within the FFP environment, they present wider and accelerated miles earning pool for the members but also results in additional earnings for the airline that is used to subsidise the costs of its FFP.

Airline alliances have helped in selective aggregation of passengers as well as spread-out cost benefits for airlines. The success of these alliances is indicated by the statistics generated and is indicative of its popularity and the way forward for airlines. Among the top three alliances- Star alliance has 455.5 million PPY*, 912 destinations, 25.1% market share, SkyTeam has 428 million PPY, 841 Destinations and 20.8% market share and Oneworld has 319.7 million PPY, 692 destinations and 14.9% market share. One of the crucial factors that have played a role in the popularity and success of these alliances definitely has been the opportunity to earn miles seamlessly across them.

According to the Economist magazine, frequent flyer points are the world’s second largest currency. The total number of frequent flyer miles worldwide is worth an estimated $500 billion. (4) This indicates that miles collection remains a constant done either deliberately or as a normal process. It has become an alternate currency whose potential exchange value is used to attract customer attention. Redemption offers being important tools that can be used to make customer transact with the miles ecosystem and used to sell perishable commodities like seats on aircraft or hotel rooms during off-season periods. The large miles pool thus presents a real opportunity than threat to the airline industry and indicates that along with constant accrual, periodic redemptions are critical to demonstrate the value of miles earned.

* Passengers per year

It seems that what makes loyalty programs attractive (from the consumer standpoint) and effective (from the airline standpoint) is the reward side of the equation. FFPs work because there is a balancing of consumer and airline interests. From the airline standpoint, the generous awards can be justified because average award costs are closer to the direct costs of carrying a passenger (an extra meal, extra aircraft fuel, etc.) than to the actual cost of purchasing a comparable ticket. That’s because award seats are limited, thereby reducing the likelihood of an award passenger displacing a revenue passenger. The real advantage for an organisation in giving away loyalty points lies not only in creating a sense of loyalty, but in the millions of data points collected about customer behaviour. This data is analysed and used for inside-out marketing communications. As FFPs allow targeted communications with the airlines’ proven customers, it is not necessary to spend as much on expensive (and inefficient) print and broadcast advertising to maintain the interest and loyalty of current customers. The dollars “earned” through these savings run into the millions. A combination of sophisticated yield management techniques and frequent flyer programs has helped the airline industry consolidate its profits.

FFPs at crossroads:

Frequent flyer programs as revenue consolidators & generators have remained a constant within the airline industry but it is the needs of the customer that have undergone a sea change. In order to accommodate the changed needs of the customers, many FFPs have gone through an inevitable metamorphosis into sophisticated programs playing a vital role in customer relations management (CRM). In the process of maintaining the relevance of their FFPs as brand differentiators, airlines today are compelled to upgrade their programs with new generation functionalities. But the greatest impediment towards this transformation has come from inside-system constraints. Most of today’s loyalty systems were developed in-house in a reactive fashion. They were predominantly built on legacy systems that have limitations when it comes to up gradations. While the basic debiting and crediting of points, additional promotions, tier based differential accruals etc work reasonably well with the old system, complex offerings exposes, the limitations of these systems and a lot of manual processing is required to support these activities

Some of the weak points of legacy systems may be summarised here:

Lack of flexibility- In most systems it is extremely difficult to make changes-changes like new promotions, new programs or even smaller things, like what data gets stored for each customer.

Expensive to Maintain- In order to accommodate enhancements within the legacy systems that are inherently difficult to make, a lot of coding is required. Coding exercises being manual intensive are expensive by nature. Built predominantly on custom-made systems, there is poor interoperability between alliance partners. Thus, the opportunities to share opportunities & costs that come with economies of scale are diminished thereby pushing up the costs.

Little or no access to customer data for analysis- Despite accumulating customer data, many airlines are constrained by their inability to derive deployable information through data mining and analysis. Such information is valuable in understanding customer behaviour patterns, calculating ROI, make any necessary course correction or most importantly, to directly communicate with valuable customers.

Lack of customer information flow between systems: For enhancing the travel experience for the passenger, the airline staff needs to treat them with familiarity and based on larger business, treat them as special. Unless the information regarding the customer is accessible through their system, this cannot happen. In legacy systems, actionable customer information cannot be pushed out to customer contact employees at the appropriate time.

There are also other constraints like inability to offer complex tactical promotions, Inability to effectively handling large databases, lack of multi-channel support, non-integrated and non-automated marketing functions etc restrains an airline from exploiting the true capabilities of a frequent flyer program. Thus faced with FFPs on state-of-the art loyalty platforms, these airlines lose the opportunity to convert their loyalty programs into true tools of competitive advantage, attracting, retaining and expanding business with high-value customers. In a different period, the legacy systems have served the airlines well. In the more demanding circumstances wherein the value-proposition of an FFP has changed, the passenger’s loyalty has become all the more determining factor that has a direct effect on the operational efficiencies and profitability for an airline. Legacy systems are well past their prime and the airlines are left with no choice but upgrade their FFPs on enterprise systems.

Comparison-legacy system & new loyalty solution.

Legacy/ custom built solutions

Gen-Next Systems

Expensive to maintain

Strategically lower maintenance costs

Lack of over-all flexibility

Flexibility to handle multi-faceted loyalty functions

Manual intervention intensive

Low manual intervention

Difficulty in offering complex rewards

Multiple rewarding options

Cumbersome to handle large databases

Easy to handle large & multiple segmented databases

Inability to analyze accumulated data

Developed for complex data analysis

Lack of customer information flow between systems

Access to real-time customer information at all customer touch points

Lack of Multi-channel support

Integrated with multiple channel ability

Poor inter-operability between alliance partners

Designed for seamless inter-operability between alliance partners

Marketing communication is a separate & manual function

Marketing communications are automated and seamless

FFPs are workhorses for airline industry having proven its effectiveness over 27 years. The role of FFPs & expectations from it has changed. The next generation loyalty solutions need to be adopted within the industry to continue harness the power of FFPs. Some highlights of the new loyalty solutions are:

Viable and inevitable migration option from the current legacy system.
Pre-built analytics solution that can throw-up obtain customer behavioural/purchase patterns.
A flexible rules engine that can accommodate multiple rules to run the loyalty program.
Empowers the airlines to design and effectively execute and manage loyalty campaigns and ability to offer complex rewards.
Flexible design supporting innovative airline business models and enables them to respond efficiently to the ever changing demands of the air travel industry.
Enable seamless customer information flow between systems. The touch points where customer is serviced should have the capability to access important information that can transform the flying experience.
Marketing communication should be integrated with the FFP system rather than being a separate activity.

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You’ve been slogging around in crummy weather flying checks or doing crunch and goes as a flight instructor for a long time now. Or perhaps you are at a regional and got your dream shot at a major. Maybe you just retired from military flying and are headed to your first airline interview.

Whatever the case, you have your big day coming up and you don’t want to blow it. Although the shine has worn off from airline jobs in recent years, they are still highly coveted jobs with plenty of qualified applicants clamoring for them. The thought of an interview and all the hoops to jump through seems daunting. The good news is that there is a lot of support out there from people who have been there.

Many companies, from regionals, cargo, majors, etc., follow fairly similar formats for interviews. I have gone through the process several times, including regional and major interviews. I have found a few general tips that are applicable anywhere and should help you:

1) Company IQ – Make sure you have done some basic research on the company and are confident it is one you would be happy at. Make sure on the day of the interview you know the president, CEO, stock price, fleet, bases, and principles of the company at a minimum…there may be a pop quiz during the interview!

2) Survive the Sweatbox – Some interviews have simulator rides. The profile will be pretty basic and you won’t be expected to be Yeager, but they are looking for basic airmanship. There are many prep companies out there, usually $500-$1000. If doing the prep takes the edge off and gives you confidence going into the interview, by all means do it. That $500 is chump change compared to the career earnings at a major. It would be a shame to lose your dream shot because you wanted to save a few bucks. Better to regret spending the money than regret not spending it!

3) Be Paranoid – Make sure you are on your best behavior at all times! Most airlines will fly you from your home to their headquarters on their airline. The interview starts as soon as you step foot into the airport. Some guys have blown it by giving ticket and gate agents a hard time. It may not be hard for an agent to deduce that you are interviewing and make a phone call to HR, sinking you then and there..IT HAS HAPPENED (especially if you are interviewing at a certain Texas LCC!) Smile and treat everyone respectfully because they are watching.

4) Know thy question – You know the expression RTFQ? When you are interviewing, LTTFQ!

Airlines used to ask What Would you Do type questions, but most interviews these days are Tell Me About a Time (TMAAT) where they want you to tell them a story about something that happened to you. They feel that past behavior will predict future behavior. The format for the answer should be the SAR model:

Situation – give them a brief overview of the problem or situation

Action – how did you decide to solve the problem

Result – what was the end result of your action and what did you learn

Sometimes you have to decode the questions. For instance, they may ask “TMAAT your schedule changed?” On the surface it may seem like a obscure question, but what they are really asking is if they junior man you and make you work into a day off, will you get mad and storm off the jetway or will you make a positive experience out of it? Thus you would want to tell them about a story where you got your day off rolled but saw it as an opportunity to make more money, help the company, etc.

5) CRM: Use all resources – There are tons of resources out there for you. Wikipedia is good for researching the company. There are several “gouge” sites where people who interviewed post their experience. I strongly recommend an interview prep service that specializes in airline interviews, they will teach you what they are looking for when they ask questions and how to formulate your own answer. However, you don’t want to sound “canned” as the interviewers are trained to see through it.

Some interviews, such as Cathay Pacific, are more in-depth than a typical interview, and there are guides out there that explain how.

These tips will help you but they are not enough, so I made a resource for pilots:

Click here for everything you need.

There are many airlines in India which are running under “Air Corporations Act”. Airline Industry in India has grown by leaps and bounds. Earlier the major airlines were Indian Airlines, Deccan Airlines, Kingfisher, etc. But now there are several airlines available in India with domestic as well as International flights.

Several airline companies came into the picture post 1980. Kingfisher Airline, Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Spice Jet and Indigo are some of them. They all work to provide maximum benefits to their customer and earn their satisfaction. But to get all the benefits you need to be little smart.

If we talk about current scenario then Jet Airways is India’s largest airline in domestic sector. They provide all the major benefits which should be available in flight. They provide meals, beverages, magazines, etc. The staff of Jet Airways is quite helpful and well mannered. Jet Airways has also started a low cost carrier named “Jet Lite”. In this you will get cheap air tickets. Though there will be some limitations of these flights like you will not get you food for free. You have to purchase food according to the choice.

Another giant in private airline company is “Kingfisher Airline”. This is the only five star airline which offer premium services in domestic flights. This airline is the pioneer to start Live TV in domestic flight. This airline has flights in almost all the major cities. There are 38 routes of Kingfisher airline within India. Apart from this it has taken over Deccan Airlines and started its low cost carrier “Kingfisher Red”. Must say one will have good experience while traveling with Kingfisher Airline.

Now if we put an eye on domestic sector then Indian Airlines is the major one. This is the oldest airline in India. It has flights for all the major destinations across India. They provide various facilities to the travelers. You can book cheap tickets directly from their site. They also have international flights which fly under the name “Air India”.

There are other airlines also like Spice jet, Go air, Indigo, etc. Different airlines have different benefits. It’s up to you where you want to fly and which flight suits you best. So you have to see all the pros and cons of different airlines before you decide to book air tickets. Nearly all major airlines in India provides online flight booking facility. You should also consider the fare amount of different flights. If you don’t want to spend much money then you should go for Low Cost Carriers.

 

Travel has changed and fierce competition among airline carriers has ensured that the savvy customer benefits. Unlike earlier tickets on a flight are not sold at a fixed rate. Most airlines have an elaborate grading system in place. For example:

o In Y class the airline may choose to sell say 10 of tickets at USD 100 each.

o In X class they may allocate 50 seats at USD 110.

o In S class they may want to sell 75 seats at USD150 each.

o In C class the airline may choose to sell say 5 tickets at USD 300.

So at any given time when you try and buy tickets you would come up with different rates depending on the number of tickets you wish to buy. As a traveler you need to log on to websites that sell discounted or cheap airline tickets at different times of the day or night and check whether you strike gold.

Here are a few tips that may help you get the cheapest airline tickets:

1. Get familiar with the workings of major plane ticket search engines and web directories. Examples are Expedia, Hotwire, and 1888airlinetickets.com . Most tend to release new discount tickets quotas on Wednesdays. So the best time to buy the cheapest tickets would be Wednesday night from midnight to around 5 am.

2. If you are planning a trip for the whole family then aim for off season travel. Ticket prices are lowest just before and after major holidays and in fall. According to experts the best time slots would be say mid-January to end February, April through May, and mid-September to mid-December.

3. Try not to buy tickets last minute the prices are the highest from 14 days before departure date. So either book around 21 days in advance or take a chance that a plane may be empty and book just before departure. Many airlines give away unsold tickets at bargain prices around half hour before departure.

4. In case you just have to travel during holidays. Choose the day itself and not the day before. Experts have found that planes go empty on Xmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving days while they are chock-a-block the day before and after.

5. To get the most benefits you must comparison shop. Log on to several travel sites and compare prices for the sector you want to fly on.

The airlines and travel websites offer greater discounts for tickets booked online because it saves them overhead costs. One-way tickets are more expensive than two way so, book a round trip and reap the many benefits. Similarly tickets are much cheaper mid-week than weekends.

Try and collect loyalty reward points by flying the same airline each time. That way you will benefit more and you can also choose to club credit card reward points with flying miles. If you are traveling constantly then sign up for email notifications of discounts, promotions, and change in prices.

Traveling by plane now has so many aspects that a traveler needs to keep abreast with changes in the system and new innovations. The World Wide Web has changed air travel by offering so many conveniences online.

 

The Following are the steps involved in booking an airline ticket online:

– Searching flight route

– Selecting flight number

– Entering your data

– Payment

– Printing your Tickets

Searching flight route.

Usually the website will provide an airline flight route table for both domestic flights and trips abroad. Choose a route to your destination, Keep in mind that a direct flight is always preferable but not always cheapest. In addition to the route you will also need to fill in the number of passengers you plan to travel with, both adults and children. For children under the age of 23 months an extra seat need not be booked as they can travel on the lap of their mother.

Selecting flight number.

After you decide on the route, then all flights available on that day flying that route will be available to you, generally flights at the start and end of the day will be more expensive as this is when business travellers tend to fly. When you have decided which time to travel there will be options of which class you would like to fly, the options are usually economy, business and first class with the later being the most expensive.

Entering your data.

After you choose ticket(s) and price, then the next thing you are asked to fill in is a profile for the passenger manifest. You must fill in the profile with your name, sex, address and telephone that could be reached. If there is more than one passenger travelling you must fill in the data for those you are travelling with also.

Payment.

After completing your profile, the biographical data will appear along with the ticket booking code and the amount to be paid. To process payments online the most common method is via credit card. There is also payment methods available through the ATM. And if you have neither of these you can record / print the results of the booking and then report to the airline ticket counter to pay.

Print tickets.

When the process of finding and buying plane tickets online is finished you can simply print your tickets or booking code all ready for check in. Once you have the ticket printout you are all ready to go to the airport and board your flight.

 

There are lots of people who might feel that when someone talks about airport taxis in front them they mean some different type of taxi that is found only at the airports. Well, if you also have the same thoughts then let me edit it, because although these are taxis which are found only at the airports, but they are not taxis of some specific segment but are like regular cars that are used for taxi purpose.

You will agree that in recent years there has been dynamic change in the life style of people and with increasing income things which till few years were considered or consumed only by elite groups have made their entrance in the lives of a common man. And, therefore change in methods of traveling in taxis has also undergone vast changes, today you can find various luxurious cars like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW etc being used by taxi operators as taxis in the fleet of vehicles operated by them.

Moreover, today way of traveling in taxis also changed, earlier to travel in taxi you need to come out from your place and wait for the taxi by standing at the road side. But, today you just need to call the taxi provider and depending upon your requirement you will find a taxi standing at your doorsteps on fixed time. Not only this, today people are making use of taxis for their personal functions also.

Well all this was about the changing trend of traveling in a taxi, returning back to our subject Airport taxis, let me ask you a question. Tell me what do you when you plan to go out of your town either for vacation or for any other reason? Obviously, you will reply booking tickets and packing your bags. Well these are common things that are performed by all of us. But, apart from this don’t you try to collect information about local transport facilities available in that city.

Anyhow, leave that question aside, because about local transport facilities you can collect information from the natives, but what about traveling to your hotel from an airport? As you are new to the city you are not sure about the availability of transport facilities outside the airport. At that time the best possible option available in front of you is to hire an airport taxi Burgess Hill being parked at the airport. These taxis are mainly standing at the front door of an airport and available for the passengers looking for traveling in them towards their destination. The taxis standing at the yard of airport are operated by licensed taxi operators and strictly operate according to the regulations and code of conduct determined by airport authorities.

Interestingly now days taxi operators are offering the facility of booking their taxis quite earlier as soon as you plan your trip to new city. To assist their passengers these operators have their official websites from which you can contact them and discuss your taxi requirements with them depending upon the number of persons coming with you, luggage and type of taxi required by you. As soon as you get the formalities accomplished by airport authorities you will find these taxis waiting for you. The drivers driving these taxis are well experienced and well versed with traffic laws of that city. Moreover, as these drivers are specifically for airport travelers have complete knowledge about the arrival and departure of different flights and therefore they ensure you about reaching at airport on time.

Travelling is a fun thing to do – there’s a lot you can explore and relate with, but most of all you can relax and get away from the mundane routine of life. The bet part of travelling can however be traveling with a bunch of friends – the kind of friends that never make you feel old and the ones who you can happily share your food and drinks with.

The reality however is a lot more different than you think it is – your concern will always be on managing the budget most appropriately without any major complications. This article has some of the best tips for you when you’ve got a shoestring budget and want to travel with a group of friends.

Check for Group Discounts – The best part about travelling in a group is that you can easily avail the group discounts wherever applicable. However, if there’s no group discount available, you can request for it and chances are the ninety percent of the time you will get it. Getting a group discount means you’ll be saving a lot of money, which means you’ve efficiently managed your budget in the first step.

Get Cheapest Air Tickets – Try to get the cheapest air tickets because let’s be clear you spend the maximum part of the budget on air tickets. It is advisable to opt for economy flight tickets over business class, unless of course you’re willing to spend a huge sum on just airfare.

Plan In Advance – Planning in advance is always a great idea because you have enough time to buy tickets and arrange your stuff, as well as to arrange for your stay. Also, if you’re leaving on a pre-planned trip chances are you’ll always have enough information about the place and you will be able to decide the places you wish to visit and the ones you can neglect.

Try Public Transportation – Using public transportation the best thing you can do once you reach your travel destination. Doing so will not only save a lot of money from your group budget but will also help you interact with the locals, thus letting you understand their culture. Remember, some of the best conversations happen at the most unexpected places with the most unexpected people; who knows yours might happen while you’re taking the local transport facilities.

Youth Hostels Instead of Hotels – Hotels can be really expensive especially if you’ve got no advance bookings. You can however avoid this problem by going for youth hostels instead of hotels. Youth hostels unlike hotels will charge you less amount of money and even with lesser amenities you will surely have a great time.

With these above-mentioned tips you and your group of friends will definitely be able to make a great trip in a shoestring budget, and the memories will indeed be beautiful.

Introduction

Bricks of loyalty:

Despite the extant literature on customer loyalty, it is recognized that the psychological processes behind customer loyalty and commitment are still ill understood (Pritchard et al. 1999) (1). The fundamental guidance system for all human responses is powered by its emotional palette. Thus, to understand its underpinnings and moderate it to favor an organisation within limited extend, an deep understanding of human psychology is important.

Total customer-loyalty is the Holy Grail that all organisations seek in order to meet their business objectives and bolster financial bottom-lines. Every organisation has the fantasy that their customers would remain totally loyal to their business. If this could be achieved, they would remain profitable forever. This is a dichotomous thought because, if all customers would restrict their loyalty to a few organisations, then customer acquisition-the manna for business growth would grind to a halt, killing expansion and new initiatives. Thus, disloyalty within varying degrees is a reality and a necessary evil.

Reality is far from fantasy, and humans will keep shifting their loyalty at varying levels as they are by nature promiscuous in all their relationships. Their ability to think intelligently enables them to explore various combinations and permutations in every situation and choose what is most favorable to them.

The “sense” of loyalty seems be a part of the survival instinct. It helps people come together and live within groups & undertake tasks that would otherwise have been impossible to execute alone or in small numbers. This human tendency to cluster together is what marketing experts call “relationship-proneness”. In this clustering, the individual is willing to let collective needs predominate over his personal needs. This requires high levels of commitment that can only emanate from a strong, consensual and positive state of mind.

Among the various factors that affect customer loyalty, the sense of commitment comes across as major. In the literature on organizational psychology, Allen and Meyer (1990) distinguish between affective, continuance (calculative) and normative commitment. The differences between these three types of commitment reflect the psychological state that binds the individual to the organization. Affective commitment refers to the emotional attachment to an organization, while continuance commitment refers to the costs that individuals associate with leaving the organization and the normative component refers to individuals’ feelings of obligation to remain with the organization. They argue that a more comprehensive understanding of the link between commitment and loyalty will be achieved when all three types of commitment are considered simultaneously (5). Pritchard et al. (1999) argue that an analysis of commitment ‘should move beyond a general expression of attachment and incorporate an understanding of the psychology inherent in binding a person to that disposition’ (p. 334). They distinguish information processes, identification processes and volition processes as antecedents of commitment. (2)

Many organisations have spent valuable resources in implementing a loyalty program to retain existing customers and attain new ones. While many have succeeded, the others are still struggling recoup the expenses and to identify what went wrong in the whole process. A Loyalty program is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It should address the stimulus-response system of its targeted customers based on actual behavioural data over a period of time. People within different segments exhibit differing behavioural traits & the stimulus that elicits a desired response seems to be varied too. The variety of behavioural responses by same people within different groups is truly complex. Basic understanding of the human stimulus-response to emotional manipulations can be understood from the classic “Hawthorne study” & B.F. Skinner’s theory of “operant conditioning” and his proposition and exploration of possibilities of the “token economy”. The rewards offered through a loyalty program not only aim at eliciting the right behaviour, but also reinforce it so that it ultimately becomes the part of the person’s shopping psyche. Eliciting the right response is not just the function of the rewards offered, but all also includes a lot of other factors including the overall experience that has been nomenclatured as “experiential-marketing” in today’s parlance.

By being the member of a loyalty program, a subscriber by default becomes the part of a larger community. Like every group, this community is also guided by certain norms and rules-predominantly set by the principal organisation that owns the program. The acts of accrual and redemption forms the basic rules and constant tactical promotions that have a different set of rules forms advanced rules that form the part of the standard operating procedures that guide the members of the community. Community formation being the first step, successful conversion of the members into a “psychological-crowd” remains the key. Psychological crowds are by nature extremely prone to the power of suggestibility. This vulnerability towards suggestion can arguably be achieved by constant and relevant communication. In marketing terms the tactical and strategic promotions that are used to constantly communicate to the members serve the function of active suggestion. Physical and emotional proximity between the members can be achieved by creating activities specially created for them like a family day-out, movie premiere, tickets for a play etc. These activities re-assure each member that as there are many like them who think and act similarly thus, validating their membership to the group.

What applies to an individual applies to a group-successful loyalty programs are those that leverage the emotions that guide human behaviour and channelise them towards limited behaviour modification resulting in regular and incremental financial returns for the organisation. The human mind craves for routine and any incentive that allows one to profitably (by being rewarded) continue dealing with familiar organisations is a winner.

Loyalty programs are dictated by market dynamics. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity and a vital tool for survival for any business across industries. This is easy to understand when we realise that the market resides nowhere but in the collective consciousness of consumers.

Loyalty-the airline perspective

Like any business, the airline industry has organically grown to many times its size since the first commercial aircraft began operations. With almost every nation today owning a “national” airline and the numerous private airlines glutting the sky, the passenger has never been spoiled for choice. Air travel itself has come down from a few notches in its positioning with ticket prices hitting realistic levels and from a luxury, it has become a necessity.

The process of globalization has resulted in creating new inter-cultural and inter-national dependencies. In the new & bold “flat world”, political boundaries have become transparent. Business or personal travel has picked up and considering that today, time is perceived as more valuable, air travel has naturally become more popular. With conspicuous consumption attaining added respectability, even services are treated at par with products. It may be safely said that today the consumer has truly been crowned “King”.

According to a Datamonitor study, the global airlines industry generated total revenues of $318.6 billion in 2005, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% for the five-year period spanning 2001-2005. Passenger volumes increased with a CAGR of 5.5% between 2002-2006, to reach a total of 2,490 million passengers in 2005. The performance of the industry is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated CAGR of 8.3% for the five-year period 2005-2010 expected to drive the industry to a value of $475.3 billion by the end of 2010 (3).

With demand reaching high levels, the battle has focused on cornering maximum business by individual airlines. Loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs as they are known within the airline industry have already proven its efficacy as effective marketing weapons helping the individual airlines and alliances differentiate their service features and reduce core marketing expenses. Since the target acquisition has changed from large groups to smaller demographic groups or even individuals, a shift in firing mode-from assault to precision is but a natural process.

Increased business opportunities have throw up its own unique challenges and airlines in their bid to maintain profitability has had no choice but revamp, invigorate and empower alternative marketing tools like FFPs. FFPs are psychological marketing initiatives that focus on the emotions of the target prompting a change that drives them not only in thought, but action as well. Which means, over a period of time, the target customer is encouraged to if not actually make a purchase, at least find out more about the offer made. This most of the times is the beginning of a transaction.

Like everything in the universe, Loyalty programs have gone through its share of evolution as well. From primitive stamp & other coupon based ones, it has come a long way and is today almost entirely software-driven offering better flexibility through intelligent automation. The transformation of frequent flyer programs, kick started by the deregulation of the US airline industry in 1978 and extensive computerization within the industry has been rapid in recent times.

The key to any successful business is informed investment. For effectively spend money to maximise returns, deployable data is a crucial component for any organisation. Like all businesses, the airline Industry too is bound by the Pareto principle of 80:20. Since all customers are not same, it becomes important to identify the most “valuable” customers. A sophisticated data-capture system as a part of the loyalty program helps in identifying these customers and their Life time value (LTV). By identifying wallet-share, the customers can be identified and incentivised. This narrowcasting also results in better ROI on rewards and communication expenses. FFPs like all loyalty initiatives is the result of a bargain. For repeat and consistent business, the airline offers rewards to the customer who in return gets a better ROI on his spend and responds by patronizing the airline.

Data Management:

The ultimate objective of FFPs is information. It is gathered through data collation and analysis and the success of a loyalty initiative primarily depends on it. It’s not just any data but the right fields that it captures and the customer behaviour patterns that it brings out which helps the airlines in fine tuning its strategies and fortifying its bottom lines.

In 1981, when AAdvantage was launched by American Airlines, it had a 150,000 best customer database. Today, the figures have swelled many times introducing new complexities. These huge databases potentially offer tremendous business opportunities if mined properly for information. Extracting precision information by slicing and dicing the available data require sophisticated technologies to manage and derive analytics that would ultimately help the airlines retain and obtain business.

Rewards Capability:

The customer service expectations have undergone the natural evolution process and are at a higher plane today. They are conscious of the fact that their business is valuable to the industry and the individual airline. In order to meet elevated expectations, it has become essential to offer varied, exciting and obtainable rewards in two timescales-tactical and strategic. The challenge for the airlines lies in constantly identifying innovative rewarding methodologies that will keep the customer excited and participating without compromising on its financial bottomlines. Thus, apart from maintaining their own proprietary FFPs, most of the airlines have also become part of alliances like Star Alliance, Skyteam or Oneworld the three top alliances in the world or smaller regional groupings. Alliances promise seamless service to passengers across their joint networks with each alliance member giving the appropriate level of reward and recognition to each other’s members. Proportionate rewards are here to stay and there is no escape from it.

It is a tribute to the flexibility and appeal of FFPs that it has expanded and accommodated related but non-flying partners like rent-a car services, tour operators, hotels etc. Many FFPs have also successfully tied-up with natural transaction aggregators like credit cards to plug-in retail into the accrual eco-system. Though these businesses are in reality outsiders within the FFP environment, they present wider and accelerated miles earning pool for the members but also results in additional earnings for the airline that is used to subsidise the costs of its FFP.

Airline alliances have helped in selective aggregation of passengers as well as spread-out cost benefits for airlines. The success of these alliances is indicated by the statistics generated and is indicative of its popularity and the way forward for airlines. Among the top three alliances- Star alliance has 455.5 million PPY*, 912 destinations, 25.1% market share, SkyTeam has 428 million PPY, 841 Destinations and 20.8% market share and Oneworld has 319.7 million PPY, 692 destinations and 14.9% market share. One of the crucial factors that have played a role in the popularity and success of these alliances definitely has been the opportunity to earn miles seamlessly across them.

According to the Economist magazine, frequent flyer points are the world’s second largest currency. The total number of frequent flyer miles worldwide is worth an estimated $500 billion. (4) This indicates that miles collection remains a constant done either deliberately or as a normal process. It has become an alternate currency whose potential exchange value is used to attract customer attention. Redemption offers being important tools that can be used to make customer transact with the miles ecosystem and used to sell perishable commodities like seats on aircraft or hotel rooms during off-season periods. The large miles pool thus presents a real opportunity than threat to the airline industry and indicates that along with constant accrual, periodic redemptions are critical to demonstrate the value of miles earned.

* Passengers per year

It seems that what makes loyalty programs attractive (from the consumer standpoint) and effective (from the airline standpoint) is the reward side of the equation. FFPs work because there is a balancing of consumer and airline interests. From the airline standpoint, the generous awards can be justified because average award costs are closer to the direct costs of carrying a passenger (an extra meal, extra aircraft fuel, etc.) than to the actual cost of purchasing a comparable ticket. That’s because award seats are limited, thereby reducing the likelihood of an award passenger displacing a revenue passenger. The real advantage for an organisation in giving away loyalty points lies not only in creating a sense of loyalty, but in the millions of data points collected about customer behaviour. This data is analysed and used for inside-out marketing communications. As FFPs allow targeted communications with the airlines’ proven customers, it is not necessary to spend as much on expensive (and inefficient) print and broadcast advertising to maintain the interest and loyalty of current customers. The dollars “earned” through these savings run into the millions. A combination of sophisticated yield management techniques and frequent flyer programs has helped the airline industry consolidate its profits.

FFPs at crossroads:

Frequent flyer programs as revenue consolidators & generators have remained a constant within the airline industry but it is the needs of the customer that have undergone a sea change. In order to accommodate the changed needs of the customers, many FFPs have gone through an inevitable metamorphosis into sophisticated programs playing a vital role in customer relations management (CRM). In the process of maintaining the relevance of their FFPs as brand differentiators, airlines today are compelled to upgrade their programs with new generation functionalities. But the greatest impediment towards this transformation has come from inside-system constraints. Most of today’s loyalty systems were developed in-house in a reactive fashion. They were predominantly built on legacy systems that have limitations when it comes to up gradations. While the basic debiting and crediting of points, additional promotions, tier based differential accruals etc work reasonably well with the old system, complex offerings exposes, the limitations of these systems and a lot of manual processing is required to support these activities

Some of the weak points of legacy systems may be summarised here:

Lack of flexibility- In most systems it is extremely difficult to make changes-changes like new promotions, new programs or even smaller things, like what data gets stored for each customer.

Expensive to Maintain- In order to accommodate enhancements within the legacy systems that are inherently difficult to make, a lot of coding is required. Coding exercises being manual intensive are expensive by nature. Built predominantly on custom-made systems, there is poor interoperability between alliance partners. Thus, the opportunities to share opportunities & costs that come with economies of scale are diminished thereby pushing up the costs.

Little or no access to customer data for analysis- Despite accumulating customer data, many airlines are constrained by their inability to derive deployable information through data mining and analysis. Such information is valuable in understanding customer behaviour patterns, calculating ROI, make any necessary course correction or most importantly, to directly communicate with valuable customers.

Lack of customer information flow between systems: For enhancing the travel experience for the passenger, the airline staff needs to treat them with familiarity and based on larger business, treat them as special. Unless the information regarding the customer is accessible through their system, this cannot happen. In legacy systems, actionable customer information cannot be pushed out to customer contact employees at the appropriate time.

There are also other constraints like inability to offer complex tactical promotions, Inability to effectively handling large databases, lack of multi-channel support, non-integrated and non-automated marketing functions etc restrains an airline from exploiting the true capabilities of a frequent flyer program. Thus faced with FFPs on state-of-the art loyalty platforms, these airlines lose the opportunity to convert their loyalty programs into true tools of competitive advantage, attracting, retaining and expanding business with high-value customers. In a different period, the legacy systems have served the airlines well. In the more demanding circumstances wherein the value-proposition of an FFP has changed, the passenger’s loyalty has become all the more determining factor that has a direct effect on the operational efficiencies and profitability for an airline. Legacy systems are well past their prime and the airlines are left with no choice but upgrade their FFPs on enterprise systems.

Comparison-legacy system & new loyalty solution.

Legacy/ custom built solutions

Gen-Next Systems

Expensive to maintain

Strategically lower maintenance costs

Lack of over-all flexibility

Flexibility to handle multi-faceted loyalty functions

Manual intervention intensive

Low manual intervention

Difficulty in offering complex rewards

Multiple rewarding options

Cumbersome to handle large databases

Easy to handle large & multiple segmented databases

Inability to analyze accumulated data

Developed for complex data analysis

Lack of customer information flow between systems

Access to real-time customer information at all customer touch points

Lack of Multi-channel support

Integrated with multiple channel ability

Poor inter-operability between alliance partners

Designed for seamless inter-operability between alliance partners

Marketing communication is a separate & manual function

Marketing communications are automated and seamless

FFPs are workhorses for airline industry having proven its effectiveness over 27 years. The role of FFPs & expectations from it has changed. The next generation loyalty solutions need to be adopted within the industry to continue harness the power of FFPs. Some highlights of the new loyalty solutions are:

Viable and inevitable migration option from the current legacy system.
Pre-built analytics solution that can throw-up obtain customer behavioural/purchase patterns.
A flexible rules engine that can accommodate multiple rules to run the loyalty program.
Empowers the airlines to design and effectively execute and manage loyalty campaigns and ability to offer complex rewards.
Flexible design supporting innovative airline business models and enables them to respond efficiently to the ever changing demands of the air travel industry.
Enable seamless customer information flow between systems. The touch points where customer is serviced should have the capability to access important information that can transform the flying experience.
Marketing communication should be integrated with the FFP system rather than being a separate activity.

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You’ve been slogging around in crummy weather flying checks or doing crunch and goes as a flight instructor for a long time now. Or perhaps you are at a regional and got your dream shot at a major. Maybe you just retired from military flying and are headed to your first airline interview.

Whatever the case, you have your big day coming up and you don’t want to blow it. Although the shine has worn off from airline jobs in recent years, they are still highly coveted jobs with plenty of qualified applicants clamoring for them. The thought of an interview and all the hoops to jump through seems daunting. The good news is that there is a lot of support out there from people who have been there.

Many companies, from regionals, cargo, majors, etc., follow fairly similar formats for interviews. I have gone through the process several times, including regional and major interviews. I have found a few general tips that are applicable anywhere and should help you:

1) Company IQ – Make sure you have done some basic research on the company and are confident it is one you would be happy at. Make sure on the day of the interview you know the president, CEO, stock price, fleet, bases, and principles of the company at a minimum…there may be a pop quiz during the interview!

2) Survive the Sweatbox – Some interviews have simulator rides. The profile will be pretty basic and you won’t be expected to be Yeager, but they are looking for basic airmanship. There are many prep companies out there, usually $500-$1000. If doing the prep takes the edge off and gives you confidence going into the interview, by all means do it. That $500 is chump change compared to the career earnings at a major. It would be a shame to lose your dream shot because you wanted to save a few bucks. Better to regret spending the money than regret not spending it!

3) Be Paranoid – Make sure you are on your best behavior at all times! Most airlines will fly you from your home to their headquarters on their airline. The interview starts as soon as you step foot into the airport. Some guys have blown it by giving ticket and gate agents a hard time. It may not be hard for an agent to deduce that you are interviewing and make a phone call to HR, sinking you then and there..IT HAS HAPPENED (especially if you are interviewing at a certain Texas LCC!) Smile and treat everyone respectfully because they are watching.

4) Know thy question – You know the expression RTFQ? When you are interviewing, LTTFQ!

Airlines used to ask What Would you Do type questions, but most interviews these days are Tell Me About a Time (TMAAT) where they want you to tell them a story about something that happened to you. They feel that past behavior will predict future behavior. The format for the answer should be the SAR model:

Situation – give them a brief overview of the problem or situation

Action – how did you decide to solve the problem

Result – what was the end result of your action and what did you learn

Sometimes you have to decode the questions. For instance, they may ask “TMAAT your schedule changed?” On the surface it may seem like a obscure question, but what they are really asking is if they junior man you and make you work into a day off, will you get mad and storm off the jetway or will you make a positive experience out of it? Thus you would want to tell them about a story where you got your day off rolled but saw it as an opportunity to make more money, help the company, etc.

5) CRM: Use all resources – There are tons of resources out there for you. Wikipedia is good for researching the company. There are several “gouge” sites where people who interviewed post their experience. I strongly recommend an interview prep service that specializes in airline interviews, they will teach you what they are looking for when they ask questions and how to formulate your own answer. However, you don’t want to sound “canned” as the interviewers are trained to see through it.

Some interviews, such as Cathay Pacific, are more in-depth than a typical interview, and there are guides out there that explain how.

These tips will help you but they are not enough, so I made a resource for pilots:

Click here for everything you need.

There are many airlines in India which are running under “Air Corporations Act”. Airline Industry in India has grown by leaps and bounds. Earlier the major airlines were Indian Airlines, Deccan Airlines, Kingfisher, etc. But now there are several airlines available in India with domestic as well as International flights.

Several airline companies came into the picture post 1980. Kingfisher Airline, Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Spice Jet and Indigo are some of them. They all work to provide maximum benefits to their customer and earn their satisfaction. But to get all the benefits you need to be little smart.

If we talk about current scenario then Jet Airways is India’s largest airline in domestic sector. They provide all the major benefits which should be available in flight. They provide meals, beverages, magazines, etc. The staff of Jet Airways is quite helpful and well mannered. Jet Airways has also started a low cost carrier named “Jet Lite”. In this you will get cheap air tickets. Though there will be some limitations of these flights like you will not get you food for free. You have to purchase food according to the choice.

Another giant in private airline company is “Kingfisher Airline”. This is the only five star airline which offer premium services in domestic flights. This airline is the pioneer to start Live TV in domestic flight. This airline has flights in almost all the major cities. There are 38 routes of Kingfisher airline within India. Apart from this it has taken over Deccan Airlines and started its low cost carrier “Kingfisher Red”. Must say one will have good experience while traveling with Kingfisher Airline.

Now if we put an eye on domestic sector then Indian Airlines is the major one. This is the oldest airline in India. It has flights for all the major destinations across India. They provide various facilities to the travelers. You can book cheap tickets directly from their site. They also have international flights which fly under the name “Air India”.

There are other airlines also like Spice jet, Go air, Indigo, etc. Different airlines have different benefits. It’s up to you where you want to fly and which flight suits you best. So you have to see all the pros and cons of different airlines before you decide to book air tickets. Nearly all major airlines in India provides online flight booking facility. You should also consider the fare amount of different flights. If you don’t want to spend much money then you should go for Low Cost Carriers.