If you can’t get a free or mileage-paid upgrade, would you pay cash for one? How much?
A majority of air travelers in economy class would be willing to pay extra for an upgrade to more comfortable seating, according to a new survey. The question for airlines: How can you sell upgrades effectively, finding the right price and the right timing for your sales pitch to maximize customer response?
That’s the gist of a new report from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), a trade group of airlines, suppliers and tech companies that recently conducted a survey of 3,400 travelers from 18 countries.
A key finding: 86 percent of economy travelers who paid extra to move up to a premium economy seat said they found it so worthwhile that they would do so again on future flights. Some 60 percent of economy travelers said they would be willing to pay extra for a seat with more legroom.
Still, “Most airlines lack coherent policies on selling upgrades,” says APEX CEO Joe Leader. “Many attempt to charge full fare for cabins and limit their upgrade count to a set number of passengers.”
The group suggests that airlines should create individually targeted upgrade sales pitches to likely purchasers, based on a range of demographic and ticket data. “A personal traveler may be willing to spend a few hundred dollars on an upgrade versus a business traveler willing to spend over a thousand.” Leader said.
A number of airlines are currently testing last-minute auctions of seat upgrades (like Virgin America’s SeatBoost), and some are trying virtual reality sales pitches– put on a headset and take a virtual walk-arounds of premium cabins, then decide.
The report cites a company called PaxLife, a specialist in airline ancillary revenue programs, which argues that the timing of the offer and the ease of buying — preferably a one-click transaction — it are the keys to selling upgrades to passengers identified as likely buyers. PaxLife this month is rolling out a wireless in-flight entertainment system that lets an airline stream advertising directly to passengers’ personal electronic devices. A system like that could offer instant upgrade purchases.
Here’s an inforgraphic with some of the APEX survey findings about upgrades:
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United packages Economy Plus with amenities + Ride-sharing firm goes out of business + Bucket list for air travelers + Useless travel gadgets + ‘Uber of the Skies’ dies