I’m at the HP Industry Analyst Event this week and one of the interesting cases it presented was that of Emirates Airlines’ experience with Windows 8 and HP’s ElitePad. Microsoft had intended to position Windows 8 as the iPad fighter and there was a lot of doubt whether it could perform at that level. However, cases are starting to show up that suggest Microsoft may have actually gotten it right. One such case is Emirates Airlines and at the HP Event the Emirates folks, both executives and employees, advocated the HP and Windows 8 solution strongly.
Of the airlines I’ve flown, two stand out as the best: Virgin and Emirates. When given the opportunity to choose, I will pick these two airlines over any other. Now, I say that as a lifetime Platinum member, approaching 3 million miles, on American Airlines. I point this out because on American as lifetime Platinum I get a ton of perks, but often give all that up to fly on Virgin.
What makes these airlines better is in-flight service and customer treatment. Interestingly, while I fly more by far on Virgin than Emirates due to routes, Emirates is actually better. It gets best what the customer experience needs to be. For instance, on some routes, first class has private rooms, and in coach, it had implemented the best inflight entertainment system I’ve ever seen. On one trip, I spent 12 hours in the middle seat in coach on Emirates and it was still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in the air.
So while most folks have never flown Emirates, because they are, in my view, the best in the world, its technology choice has a great deal of influence on me.
While it didn’t call out the iPad by name, Emirates clearly recognized that airlines, particularly those that operate the routes they do, have huge security exposure and the iPad simply doesn’t comply with its security needs, and Android is even worse. So a primary goal for the solution was that it had to comply with the airline’s significant security and management requirements.
Now what I think is fascinating is on Emirates, with this solution, the inflight attendants can keep track of their frequent fliers, not only their names but their unique needs, so that these fliers get the “Cheers” experience (where everyone knows your name). It allows them to manage meals and do something no other airline I’ve ever flown can do: offer in-flight upgrades. Often on flights someone in first or business class doesn’t show up and the plane flies with an expensive seat left open with no way to upgrade a frequent flier and compute the extra revenue or burn some of those frequent flier miles that can pull down balance sheets.
The application is called KIS (I was thinking this stood for “Keep It Simple”) and it was developed in conjunction with HP and Microsoft. Apple doesn’t do this kind of work and while a third-party could have created an app for the iPad, it was clear Emirates wasn’t convinced the result would be as secure or as reliable.
Product advocacy is a very powerful way to convince a market with iPad tunnel vision that there are other potentially better solutions out there. Picking a company that leads its market in customer satisfaction (Emirates has, last time I checked, the highest NPS score in its industry) rather than market share is very powerful if people know that advantage. While HP didn’t share this critical customer satisfaction metric, most of us who follow these scores know which in each industry stands out.
HP clearly gets the importance of advocacy because in the CMO presentation most of the content was a panel of customers praising HP and the quality and depth of its partnerships. Companies often forget their customers or treat them like money mines. The customers on stage spoke candidly and clearly felt that HP cares about them and they appreciated that care.
HP’s turnaround success will depend heavily on customer loyalty and success. If this event is representative, HP appears to clearly get the importance of this. There are some companies that come to mind that clearly don’t. In any case, if you get the chance to fly Emirates or Virgin, give it a shot; you’ll be surprised what you’ve been missing and how a Windows 8 tablet from HP makes your experience even better.