Analytics help BA take flight

11 November 2014

CHICAGO: British Airways, the airline, successfully tapped an underexploited revenue stream by using in-depth analytics to engage customers who are living in the US but possess strong ties with India.

Jonathan Rigby, associate director/engagement planning at OgilvyOne in New York, the agency behind the program, discussed this effort – which won the Grand Prix at the Jay Chiat Awards for Strategy Excellence – at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Strategy Festival 2014.

In helping British Airways identify growth possibilities in America, a team from OgilvyOne "crunched numbers" across numerous aspects of its client's business, such as flight loads, yield and seasonality.

And this process revealed that engaging people who travelled from North America to India represented "an amazing opportunity" – and one seemingly not fully recognised by the category's major players. (For more, including details of BA's emotion-led marketing campaign, read Warc's exclusive report: How OgilvyOne insights drove traffic for British Airways.)

Following the initial round of research, the agency set out to answer questions including "Who do you talk to in North America about going to India?" and "Is it pleasure travel or is it business travel?"

Digging further into the data – including assessing statistics drawn from British Airways' Executive Club loyalty program – uncovered some more specific insights for the brand.

Families and groups with personal ties to the country, for example, frequently travelled together to visit friends and relatives.

These customers also purchased flights with a broad element of predictability, making trips "a couple of times every two or three years, or three times every five years."

At the more granular level, OgilvyOne saw particular opportunities during the fourth quarter, marking the holiday season in the US as well as India's wedding season, and thus typically prompting a spike in traffic.

Based on the knowledge that travel to India was often undertaken for reasons with deep personal resonance, British Airways launched an emotionally-led campaign that connected with this audience and boosted bookings.

"We knew that if we struck a chord that was culturally relevant and sensitive, it would be shared and people would spread it," said Rigby.

Data sourced from Warc