Air France Marketing Strategy
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Marketing|
|✅ Wordcount: 1220 words||✅ Published: 7th Jul 2017|
Air France, one of the world’s largest airlines, has a history in aviation going back nearly a century. As part of the Air France – KLM Group and a member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance, they are able to offer the best in-flight service and widest choice of travel routes to customers (Staniland, 2003, p.262).
As a service organisation, Air France must necessarily offer high quality service at all levels to its customers, and this report considers both the current state of the organisation and how it achieves this level of service quality. The 7P’s of marketing is the main framework used and consideration is also given to the benefits of relationship marketing for the organisation.
7P’s of Marketing in Relation to Air France & Its Partnerships
The 7P’s of marketing are an extension of the traditional four P’s of marketing, i.e. product, price, place and promotion, to take account of changes in approach that incorporate service delivery and thus adds in people, process and physical evidence to provide an overall service marketing mix(Nargundkar, 2006, p.45).
Air France has two main strands of product offering on the ground services and in-flight services.
The first relates to access to major airports with appropriate parking, duty free shopping facilities and safe and efficient baggage handling as well as good quality customer service at reservation counters, booking in desks, online booking services etc.
Inflight services are less tangible and more prone to customer perception, and include areas such as cabin crew approachability and comfortable seating as well as in-flight shopping and entertainment/ refreshment.
For Air France, delivery of a quality product in both aspects is a major element of business offering as they realise the importance of this to customers (Alamdari, 1999).
For many leisure travellers, price is one of the major considerations when choosing an airline, along with accessibility to airports, and flight times (Doganis, 2006, p.211). For Air France, their price structure is based on basic fares, both leisure and business plus additional costs such as taxes, and the service provided by the airline. As a strategy they have selected value for money pricing (Taneja, 2004 p.166), charging the average price when compared with their competitors.
Place in this context refers to how, where, why and when consumers purchase (Crane, 1993, p.19). For Air France this may be direct through the airline, either online or by phone, as part of a holiday package or through a third party travel agent.
Encouraging awareness of the value provided by an airline is done through promotion. In the case of Air France this is done through a combination of joint promotions with their strategic partners, both airline and non-airline based as well as direct advertising and promotion through magazines and TV advertising and in holiday brochures. The company’s promotional stance is heavily based in promoting its French basis, with a brand image based on style, colour (blue) and positioning themselves as the representation of France in the air (Kaynak & Kucukemiroglu, 1993).
In addition, the company’s partnerships with organisations such as Hertz Rent a Car, who are able to offer discounts and special deals to Air France customers and Allianz, who offer a digital safe-box to Air France customers, offer a further route to raising customer awareness of the brand and its offers.
As a service provider, the people employed by Air France are its representatives and their attitude and service delivery can be a major factor in customer loyalty (Ostrowsky et al, 1993). As such the company invests heavily in ongoing training to ensure that their values and attention to customer care are demonstrated at all times, including ensuring their staff are trained in the latest medical procedures to provide care for patients in an emergency (Bertrand, 2004)
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As a result of the numerous ways that flights can be booked, there are various different distribution channels for Air France, such as travel agents, their own direct booking service, which is either by telephone or online, as well as their affiliations and partnerships with other airlines and flight related organisations (Shaw, 2007, p.225). These include Hertz car rental and the RATP (Regional operators of local transport in Paris) who will recommend the airline to its customers in a reciprocal arrangement.
7) Physical Evidence
This aspect of the 7P’s relates to the overall operating environment and the interaction between this and consumers. For Air France this means the physical aeroplanes, their seating layout and refreshment offerings are the physical evidence of their ability, or not, to deliver to the customer’s satisfaction. In addition, even before take-off the physical environment for booking in baggage, dealing with queries and customer service desk need to be visually appealing to customers to ensure that they do not have a negative experience with the airline, it’s staff or its partners.
Air France staff have a distinctive uniform, designed by Christian Lacroix in 2005, (Lerpold, 2007, p.174) which they share with other Skyteam Alliance partners, to encourage customers to recognise the solidarity within the industry and to engender the feeling that the service will be standardised to the highest quality throughout their interaction with Air France.
Relationship Marketing and Air France
For Air France, relationship marketing means ensuring that customers feel that their needs are paramount throughout the whole travel experience, from the initial booking right through to their leaving the airport with their baggage intact as well as encouraging customer feedback with surveys and questionnaires. By developing relationships with frequent flyers and offering them promotions and discounts Air France can ensure that they will return to the airline again and again (Gilbert, 1996).
A further benefit of this approach, which should include incorporating opportunities for customer feedback on their flight experience with Air France and demonstrating that the feedback is listened to and acted on is the use of word of mouth (Farrugia & Quigley, 2009). In a world of social networking, consumers who have had a positive experience with the airline will encourage friends and colleagues to fly with Air France rather than a cheaper, budget airline, due to the premium service offered which includes the Planete Bleue package, a service specially designed to cater for families with young children and teenagers (www.airfrance.com, 2010)
Air France’s strategic partnerships and high commitment to service quality has meant that they have a good reputation with consumers and as such are able to demonstrate high levels of customer loyalty. All of these factors have contributed to make it one of the world’s largest airlines and an attractive partnership option for other airlines and customers.
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