23 April 2020 | Blog
How to communicate with passengers with cancelled journeys
Having led the way within passenger communications for 20 years and working with more than 50 of the world’s top travel brands —including Ryanair, WestJet, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas — we’re in a unique position to be able to advise our customers on the best way to communicate with passengers in any scenario. Of course, the result of the outbreak of COVID-19 has been entirely unprecedented, but we’re no stranger to mass disruption and have taken many learnings from events such as the Icelandic ash cloud in 2010.
One thing we’re strongly advising all our customers at this time is don’t stop communicating. While you won’t be able to market to customers once they’ve cancelled their journey (unless they have specifically opted-in to receive this type of message), it doesn’t mean you have to stop talking to them entirely. If you drop off their radar, you’re more likely to lose the booking when they’re ready to travel again. On the other hand, keep your brand front of mind and keep travellers informed and empowered, and you’ll be ahead of the curve when things pick up again.
Here’s how we see it coming into play during the COVID-19 crisis.
When the crisis is over and people are ready to start making travel plans again, it won’t be as simple as who can offer them the best price. A key element will be about trust.
Traveller confidence is likely to be low initially, so they’re going to need plenty of reassurance that you are doing the right thing – and therefore are going to be the right company to travel with post-crisis. They’ll want to know that you’re taking things like aircraft cleaning, social distancing, and food preparation seriously. We’d argue that it’s within the best interests of your passengers to know about this before deciding who to re-book with.
A cancelled flight doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of desire to travel. During these confusing times, people just want to maintain as much control as they can, and that means keeping hold of their money until they know where they stand again. So, the best thing you can do is to keep passengers that have cancelled journeys with you informed of your plans so that as soon as things pick up again, they are prepared and ready to re-book.
If you know when you’re planning to start flying again, it makes sense to let your potential customers know so they can make an informed decision about whether they are ready to travel again or not.
Before deciding where — or with whom — they want to travel, customers will need to know about any new procedures, restrictions, or declarations that could affect their plans. Passengers will hold you in high regard if you are the one that prevents them getting caught out in the airport. Think about the new security mandates post-9/11 — and the chaos in airports around the world as high numbers of passengers reached the airport without any knowledge of limits on liquids in hand luggage, for example.
As these procedures are likely to depend on the route and could change day-to-day, keeping passengers informed of anything like this will be critical.
If you would like any advice or support on how to stay in touch with passengers during the COVID-19 crisis, even if they’ve cancelled, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.