In 2012, the merger between airlines TAM, from Brazil, and LAN, from Chile, resulted in LATAM Airlines. Four years in the making, the brand in May launched its new visual identity in more than 13 airports worldwide. By the end of 2016, more than 50 aircrafts will bear the new logo, as well as airport counters and stores.
However, the brand change has been happening in the digital environment all along, including the release of LATAM’s global site and its Portuguese, Spanish, and English versions. The challenges involved were managed head-on and with a very clear certainty: Technology is and will be more essential to follow and retain customers and improve their experience with LATAM, no matter if they are leisure or business consumers.
To learn more about how the digital environment became one of LATAM’s most strategic pillars, CMO.com’s LATAM staff spoke to Daniel Cardoso, head of ebusiness.
CMO.com: What were Latam’s main digital challenges during the merger process and brand relaunch?
Cardoso: For some time we have understood that the new step to come closer to customers and take the relationship to another level goes through the digital environment. That was the focus of our work during the brand transition period. Considering customer relationships, the digital environment is a strategic pillar for LATAM. It is increasingly the base for how we serve and will serve our customer. We are a service enterprise, and we must be connected with our customers along the way. That, without any doubt, goes through the journey of the customer who is going to travel and through the digital environment, for sure.
The digital environment helps a travel company’s customer to make decisions. It makes a customer’s life easier, as long as we have it as a strategic pillar. The digital environment allows us to follow our customer not only during the air ticket purchase but also during preparation for the trip. That is, the brand follows the customer along the way, on the several instances you are preparing to travel. That premise guides our work.
CMO.com: In practice, how does this following of the consumer journey actually work? What are the advantages of doing so?
Cardoso: In practice, within our area and the company, this takes place by using robust technologies that allow for the management, analysis, and optimization of relationship channels, data, and systems governed by us. Along the customer’s journey, it must be clear that we really know each and every one of them. The customers must be aware that we have already identified if they have purchased an air ticket, want to purchase, or are having doubts. We must understand the context the customer is in.
CMO.com: Mobile should have a key role since it has become an important search and e-commerce platform. How does Latam explore mobile devices?
Cardoso: The best way to understand that is by using a phrase frequently said by our global CEO, Enrique Cueto. He says that our area should be called “mobile,” not “digital.”
We understand that nowadays, many times, both in the corporate and travel sectors, the decision starts on mobile devices. Most probably, the customer’s first interaction with the brand is through the cell phone. Everything starts on a mobile screen. Nowadays, an airline that is not mobile still needs to understand who its customers are and how they are moving around in the market.
Currently, in the travel and tourism industry, data shows that more than 50% of flight and hotel searches are done via cell phone. This is a global tendency. In Latin America, this is even more significant. In some countries, access to the Internet is more common on mobile devices than on PCs. We are seeing an exponential growth, not only for searches but also for mobile services. The technologies we use allow for not only offering a mobile unique experience but also customized ones.
CMO.com: From your point of view, what are the main marketing trends that airlines will focus on from now on?
Cardoso: The most important thing for companies in our industry is to understand the consumer behavior tendencies. Now we are on a change to mobile. That customer who is currently using a mobile device will soon have a broader equipment system that goes from wearables to virtual reality to new technologies.
Technology only makes sense to customers if we are able to anticipate their needs. Any decision we make nowadays is in that direction, to anticipate and predict our customers’ needs. For that reason, technology is part of our nature to serve in advance.