Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Aer Lingus thinks it's ok to sell insurance through sneaky practices?

I like Aer Lingus. Well, sort of.

If the price difference between them and Ryanair is within 50 quid, I'll go with them. You can reserve seats. The seats themselves are more comfortable. And airports are more central. The small stuff. And while they are still 'low fares', these small things allow for a small price premium. In my case, up to €50.

Of course, this is their positioning. A direct attack at Ryanair, as shown in their "Enjoy your flight" TV ad. No subtlety in their ad script "Some may think the little things that make a journey enjoyable aren't important. Not Aer Lingus. Enjoy your flight".

This is a brand building ad, not one of their direct response ads. They are investing a fair bit of cash to re-enforce our view of them as different to Ryanair. Better than Ryanair because they care. They want us to like them and trust them, as all good brands should.

But then they go and mess it up with their "opt out" insurance selling on their website.

Every time customers buy flights, they have to opt out of the insurance charge. They have to actually tick a box to remove it. Otherwise they are charged. I'm sure it makes them lots of cash, and in fairness to them, it is relatively clear - but it sends out the wrong message. The message we take from this is "we are trying to pull a fast one on you". Subconsciously we're thinking "Sneaky bastards. All airlines are the same".

Am I missing something here? I can't think of any reason for opt out except that the company believes people are less likely to buy insurance if it were 'opt in'. But is this not the point? We don't want it, so they make it less obvious and hope some of us don't figure it out. If they honestly are not trying to con us, why not make it "opt in" and then persuasively try and sell it to us?

Why spend a load of cash producing a TV campaign to make us like them if their communication on their website sends a conflicting message?

How easy would it to make a point of difference on the website and actually write "Some airlines think it is ok to try to sell you insurance through sneaky practices. Aer Lingus doesn't". Think about the impact that would have on the brand, given the huge traffic they get and the timing of delivering a brand message when it is most relevant - the point of purchase.

If Aer Lingus want us to differentiate by showing how they are different to Ryanair, they'll need more than a TV ad.

It would be no harm to look at Southwest Airlines dedication to customer service.


Anonymous said...

Excellent points Paul and it won't be long before the general public become savvy enough to spot (and note) this sort of bad practice for themselves.

Paul Dervan said...

thanks Marcus. To be honest, I don't know if they really do this to be fool their customers. It is not hidden. I just feel they could take the higher ground, if that makes sense.


Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know if their insurance is actually any good? I would think that 9 times out of 10 (thats a guess) that people dont take out insurance and may get hit as a result? If their insurance is good (ie not Ryanair Insurance) then maybe they are actually trying to help the customer?