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VIDEO: Why easyJet embraces a curious, not critical approach

easyjet masterclass
Andrew Middleton shared some of easyJet’s innovative developments

Eager to uncover how it can better serve its diverse customer base, easyJet ancillary revenue director Andrew Middleton explained how the airline is iterating and evolving through constant feedback.

As someone who is responsible for revenue derived away from direct ticket sales, Middleton and his team must think creatively and respond to consumer demand – even if customers aren’t telling them directly.

EasyJet vital statistics

• 80m passengers
• Over 100 aircraft in operation
• 33 different countries flown to

Speaking to an audience of hospitality businesses, Middleton believes easyJet’s ongoing success will be driven by building a range of products its customers want to buy from the airline, not feel they have to or need to. He wants to make sure easyJet suits different customers with different needs with a breadth of choice – and then merchandise those effectively. “We need to know who our customers are, and then we can curate and customise the buying process,” he added.

In his conversation with Be the Business CEO Tony Danker, as part of a wider Cornwall-based masterclass on boosting revenues, Middleton went into detail on a number of innovative and daring new products and services that have joined the easyJet roster in recent years.

This work, he emphasised, is backed up by the mantra of being curious, not critical. This means looking at the travel process with an open mind and asking questions which are not confrontational but move toward problem solving and service improvement.

One new offering in particular, called Hands Free, was driven by Middleton’s own dislike for the growing trend of travellers taking all of their luggage as carry on. Leading a very small team, something he said was unusual in a large corporate business, Middleton devised a new option which would allow customers to go “hands free” and leave their carry on at bag drop.

It addressed two primary concerns – that passengers think checked baggage is too expensive and they don’t want to wait on the other side to get it back. For four weeks on one route they experimented to see whether it would work operationally. From there, it was tested on four routes, only in French airports, and has now been rolled out to the whole network.

Through taking an objective look at things, and getting into the mind of the customer, easyJet also sought to address the wider problem with the price of baggage.

Find out what Andrew Middleton’s three top tips for business improvement are

Different personas

Middleton also wanted to cater for travellers who do not fill the full 20kg weight limit, but rather 11 or 12kg. The solution was a two-tiered price, allowing those carrying less weight to pay less.

There are now two bag products, 15kg and 23kg, giving people more choice. “It is about getting to the next layer of opinions – ask why five times and you’ll get to a much more meaningful answer,” he added. I would encourage people to go below the surface.”

His closing piece of advice for the room, and small businesses in general, when it comes to improving was simple. “Don’t just go for the big headline, there is a place for the niches as well. It’s about catering for different people’s needs.”

“Be open minded about where opportunities might come from. I try to never say no to an introductory phone call.”

“The value my team has got from doing niche stuff is that it’s about momentum and getting wins under your belt. As a big corporate we spend a lot of time navel gazing and talking about stuff. Building momentum with small wins meant we could try something ambitious like Hands Free.”

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