Lufthansa – Impersonalized Inspiration and Inspired Instagram


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Traveller LifeCycle

Couple of us industry colleagues were arguing last week about the different stages of a traveller lifecycle and we finally agreed that ‘Inspiration’ is a key stage of any travel – for both leisure and business. You need to be inspired to travel even if it’s for work (work is a form of inspiration, right?). And so I went online to figure out the maturity level of different airlines providing ‘inspiration’ to their potential passengers. It turns out that Lufthansa is one of the airlines which are trying real hard to inspire its passengers to travel and has had some early wins as well.

Enter Internet multimedia

Gone are the days when lengthy texts with colourful language in Lonely Planet and National Geographic were sufficient to inspire vacation destination. We are in the age of impulsive buying and instant gratification where people have short attention spans. Pictures and videos have long been used to help our imagination travel to destinations where we might one day aspire to physically travel. Nat Geo TV, travel TV shows and travel magazines are an obvious offshoot of these in the late 90s and early part of this millennium. Internet multimedia has given it a whole different level of intimacy and speed of delivery.

+ (add) Social Media

And now enter the age of social media – Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Vine. Multimedia with instant sharing, all making it too easy for couples to share their honeymoon photos to inspire other newlyweds for their big vacation, for sports fans to tease each other about where they ought to be and for
adrenalin junkies to invite their friends.

Lufthansa InterestsLufthansa Interests

+ (add) Mobile

Simultaneous to the social media development started the smartphone penetration. Today each airline offers a host of travel apps. I recently downloaded KLM’s suite of apps including ‘
Movies&More’ app and ‘KLM TripShake’ along with Lufthansa’s unified app simply titled ‘Lufthansa

Lufthansa City TipsLufthansa City Tips

+ (add) Collaborative Travel

And this is when things started interesting. Given the possibility of so many ways to inspire people using the combination of multimedia with social media and mobility, a number of airlines launched new initiatives, most notably KLM with their Trip Planner.

At the onset, I found Lufthansa’s unified app, conceptually easier to use with greater personal appeal. I am one of those people who do not like too many apps on my iPad. So I started exploring ways that Lufthansa aimed at “Inspiring” their customers to travel and fly more frequently and more specifically with them rather than any other carrier. There were some very interesting ways with which Lufthansa tried to inspire me to fly including “interests” and “city tips”.

+ (add) Inspired Instagram

Next I went onto the internet and Lufthansa’s website, Facebook page, etc and it seemed that Lufthansa has found some very innovative ways to inspire folks to travel including Interactive City Tours and behind the scenes campaign. Their Instagram campaign has been successful enough to be cited among the
ten best airline initiatives using Instagram.

Lufthansa InstagramLufthansa Instagram Page

= (equal to) Problem of Impersonalised Inspiration

But there was something missing. It gave me a “one size fits all” kind of inspiration, casting a wide net hoping to catch some fish. This is where I started having problems. I had logged into my apple account to download the Lufthansa app. I had also created a login for the app. I had given so much personal information to the app and yet it was treating me at the same level as my kid who doesn’t even have enough money to hire his own nanny.

Additionally, it didn’t ever inspire me to travel Lufthansa, even if I got caught in its wide net – why Lufthansa? This was never answered.

Problem of Social Media non-integration

I am a strong proponent of use of social media to better understand customers. For e.g. Lufthansa does not use OAuth to help me link my Lufthansa profile with my LinkedIn profile and/or my Facebook profile. So it is neither aware of my personal preferences nor my professional attributes. So it has no way of giving me an offer which is tailor-made to my requirements and preferences.

Problem of missing wish list – Get them talking!

Lufthansa (.com or app) does not cater to people expressing their wish-lists of destinations, types of holiday requirements, season when they like to travel, etc.. In this day and age of information overload, we all know where the ‘mass emails’ land up – in the Junk Mail folder! Now the best way to engage a customer is to get them to start the conversation. Get them talking. And the best part is the new generation does not have any problems “expressing” themselves. Look at all the Big Data they are creating

Sorting through the maze – Big Data Analytics

So, for the final missing piece. Of all the data that Lufthansa today owns about its customers and all that it can mine from tweets of its 20,867 followers, 1.3 M Facebook likes and pictures of 4,803 Instagram followers, Lufthansa can surely create personalised and relevant “Inspirations” for each of its 20 million “Miles & more” frequent flyer members.

Inspiration is indeed a key step for monetization of a traveller lifecycle and Lufthansa has definitely got that piece right. The wait, now is to see how it gets other pieces right and more importantly – how fast. As an innovator or a laggard? Lufthansa is one of those airlines which consistently get their Digital Experience strategy right. Can it continue its winning streak? For all the ‘conversationalists’ of the new generation, the wait is on how they can be converted to brand advocates.

Any suggestions?

Abhishek Singh
Currently, Abhishek holds the responsibility for conceptualizing, implementing and managing the IT product strategies for Infosys subsidiary, EdgeVerve, in the Digital space. Prior to this, several years at Singapore Airlines as well as his years of entrepreneurship ingrained in him the importance of customer experience.



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