Tag Archives: PR

Are customers being unfair on Ryanair?

It’s been difficult to miss the recent trauma caused to the Ryanair brand following its announcement that its pilots are off on holiday for the rest of the year. An estimated 2% of flights were to be cancelled, meaning very few ‘customers’ are impacted (according to them).

‘Have your say’ poll below

I’m one of the 98%, whose flights went ahead, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t aware or affected by the situation. I have still seen all the news and abuse they been getting in the press and social media. It’s also crashed into my customer journey when I flew because I had to put more effort in to remove the anxiety involved with sticking with Ryanair.

When I saw the initial announcement, I had flights booked to Copenhagen for business. I didn’t know if they intended to publish a cancellation but heard stories of passengers being told two hours beforehand that their flight had been cancelled. I was due to run two days of customer journey mapping workshops, so couldn’t take the risk.

I booked the flights originally because of the convenience factor of them. I’d be departing from an airport close to me and at a time that suited. The cost of the flights matters less to me. a lot less than an airline honouring a flight where there are dependencies at the other end.

So, I booked back-up flights in case the Ryanair flights were cancelled and I didn’t know whether they’d tell passengers about cancellations. The back-up flights were from an airport 90 mins further away from me than the Ryanair flights, so a lot less convenient, but at least I knew I’d get there if mine were cancelled which had now become a more important criteria than convenience.

When the cancellation list was published my flight was not on it. But as a colleague said, ‘when you buy cheap, you end up buying twice’. Ryanair positions itself at the cheap end of the cheap brand spectrum, so the old advertiser’s wife’s tale certainly came true for me. In fact, I’ve ended up lining the pockets of two other airlines they compete with just so I can use Ryanair.

Is Ryanair being unfair to me as a customer? 

I don’t think it is. I understand I am a transaction to Ryanair and not a customer. It’s always been that way. I accept that to afford the price of their ticket I need to lower my expectations. I need to sacrifice quality and a lot more besides because we enter into a transaction, not a customer relationship. That’s the trade. If I want to be treated like a customer, I should choose an alternative carrier. I get that.

So it’s my choice and they don’t try and present themselves as anything more than that, so we get along just fine. In fact, I’ve booked over twenty trips so far this and a noticeable proportion of those have been with Ryanair so I hop it’s commercially viable for them too.

But will everyone feel the same?

From a share price perspective, they are 25pts up on where they were this time last year. But what’s your view? Complete the survey below and see what others think too.

Will passengers change their airline?

Perhaps those who have lost hundreds on hotels and car hire will be less likely to consider Ryanair, especially as they cant get refunds from their travel insurers for which Ryanair state legally isn’t their problem.

People who had events and activities planned like visiting family abroad for key birthdays, weddings organised or taking friends and loved ones away for much anticipated trips might hold a long term resentment if they can reschedule at no extra cost.

I know they have slim margins and are looking for me to demonstrate my fallible human side and make a mistake (e.g. I forget to check in 2 hours before hand or I need a drink of water and pay €3 on board when it costs 69p if i’d remembered to get it before I flew, or if show weakness and exercise my right to sit with my wife and young sons on the flight and pay for seats to do so). Those extras are part of their business model, they need to protect them.

But in return, they don’t expect me to be ‘very satisfied’ with the experience. they don’t expect me to tell others to use their airline, they don’t expect me to be loyal to them and they don’t expect me to enjoy using Ryanair. It’s a transaction. We both know where we stand and I think it works pretty well.

Can I remember when I travelled with Ryanair and where to? No, it’s a pretty forgettable experience.

Can I tell you how good the experience was? I didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

Can I recall a positive memorable moment from dealing with them? They are not creating happy memories. That’s not what cheap brands do. 

Would I tell others to choose them? No, but that’s not important to them. They aren’t looking to give me any reason to do so and I have no reason to tell anyone else to use them.

If I want a memorable flight I should choose another airline. Ryanair do not have the margins or the brand to satisfy customers, so why would they focus on it?

Does this episode reaffirm Ryanair’s brand, rather than damage it?

I’ve also found the Ryanair cancellation was a hot topic amongst the Swiss, German, Danish and Belgium attendees at the workshop. It seems others are not so accommodating. Listening to the discussion amongst the international group of business travellers, I hadn’t appreciated how wide reaching this incident had become.

Some decided to use a different airline to get to the workshop to previously used Ryanair. They said it was a nice experience so they would carry on now they’d realised the flight experience was important to them.

But we shouldn’t be disappointed in Ryanair. The incident itself and how they have conducted themselves throughout the flight cancellation saga has been true to their brand. Whether it’s not publishing the cancellation list early enough, putting pilots holidays before passengers holidays, sitting in front of an advertising poster of smiling actors posing on a beach as the CEO says sorry we can’t fly some of you to the beach or not sharing compensation information legally obliged to until the regulator barks, they been consistent.

All these have been executed perfectly in line with the values of Ryanair. Few other companies could turn a crisis in to such as demonstration of unwavering alignment to their brand.

Posted by Chistopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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Unordinary Thinking No.33 – Customer Satisfaction based pricing

Ever since I heard that Radiohead allowed fans to determine the price of their music downloads I wondered if the model could be applied to the professional services market. With a mass offering like music, the advantage is that volume and time allow for the remuneration to build to recoup the costs to produce it; an unending opportunity to eventually break even. With a professional service such as marketing strategy support to a time critical defined problem from a specific client, the model is a little less forgiving.

IMG_6330I buried the idea as nonsense until I was in St Katharines Dock in London recently where I saw the Honesty Shop Bus. It’s a double-decker which contains tourist type items for sale. There is an honesty box inside where customers make a self-imposed contribution in line with what you feel is right to pay. Those on the bus that day made what I regarded as reasonable payment gestures.

I decided if Radiohead and an unattended London bus can elicit purchasers without naming a price, surely Lexden can.

Earlier this year I got my chance to try out the idea. We received a request to provide PR strategy support to a well-known agency who were pitching for a slice of a media owner’s budget. The brief was familiar to us; get under the skin of the consumer audience and unearth their emotive drivers and motivations to help a brand connect in a meaningful way.

We were asked what we would charge for insight, analysis and presentation. At this point, as in most pitches, we appreciated our fee may be beyond the pitch support budget of the client. Normally I would propose a number of days based on an established day rate. However, on this occasion I suggested our client decided what the piece of work was worth to them when we had submitted it. We both accepted the risk (with pitch support there is no second chance to get it right, so like Radiohead, this was a calculated risk because of our reputation to deliver).

We completed the work. The client loved it. 

The client then proposed an amount. It was coincidentally similar to the amount of time I spent on the work. So what’s the advantage you may ask?

Using the traditional model, the client pays and we are paid, the client values the work and we value the business. A very transactional affair. Not to be sniffed at but less inspiring.

However, under the new model, we produced the work, the client valued our work, the client decides on an appropriate fee (so they are more engaged in the assessment of the quality of the work), we are rewarded for our craft and we both feel valued equally in the equation. It becomes more of an emotional engagement rather than just a supply and demand contract.

In an era where crowd sourcing, community collective schemes and credit unions are emerging to stimulate economic growth. It shows specialist B2B providers can participate too.

And how did it all turn out? They won the pitch. 

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

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