Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 1

Josh Rashkin of Frontier Airlines

We’re excited to launch our 3×3 Podcast! In this series, our host, Julian Scott, will be sitting down with industry professionals to get their thoughts on a range of topics spanning marketing, customer experience, and beyond. 

Our inaugural episode features Josh Rashkin, Email Marketing Manager at Frontier Airlines, discussing the challenges and successes of marketing during the global pandemic.

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: It goes without saying that 2020 had a huge impact on the travel industry. What would you say were the biggest changes Frontier made once travel essentially halted and how things shifted now that travel is ramping back up

Josh Rashkin: Certainly, the biggest change was that pivot in messaging and focus across all our channels, to really providing as much information in real time as we possibly could. The challenge being, in those early days at least, that we also didn’t necessarily have all of that information. Our tone changed, the content of our messaging changed, and it really took over all of our touchpoints for at least a while there.  

Now that travel’s coming back, there’s a lot of that that remains. There’s a lot of new normal that is true for travelers, where there is a need to know the policy at your origin, the policy at your destination. There’s a lot of discussions and an examination of information hierarchy at every customer touchpoint we have.  

Julian Scott: As you look back now on the 2020, is there anything you would do differently?  

Josh Rashkin: Frontier, as a company, as an airline, was luckily well positioned going into this. We were also already a very leisure and family-visit focused airline. We didn’t have such a dependency on business travel as maybe some of the legacy carriers did.  

I think Frontier timed a lot of things very correctly. We aggressively and early responded to the COVID crisis. We really focused on making sure that if you needed to travel, we had safe and reliable options for you to choose from, but that if you didn’t have to travel, we could give you options for looking down the road and rescheduling things. While it certainly is stressful in communicating directly with consumers who maybe think that you’re overreacting or you’re not reacting strongly enough, I think overall the position taken by Frontier was well balanced between those two extremes.  

The only thing I could say was there were plenty of times where we were not necessarily pivoting back to opening travel up, that we could have kept a more consistent tone, but you know hindsight is 20/20. And knowing what we know now we would maybe have modulated tone less frequently, but the modulation of the tone was still the right thing to do. So, all in all, not a lot we would have done differently, I think.  

Julian Scott: What are some insights you can share regarding what the pandemic really looked like for the travel industry?  

Josh Rashkin: What a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily know or wouldn’t even have the opportunity to see, is just the amount of human work going on. It’s easy to see travel brands and services as maybe cold and as impediments to the enjoyment that’s at the end of that travel journey. But I know, from firsthand experience during all this, that there are a lot of real people who care about what’s happening and are passionate about doing right by people.  

Because it is an unprecedented event and it is something that you can’t really build automation to deal with, it is something that is a very one by one basis that has a lot of nuance to it. We had an all-hands-on deck moment of people from marketing, through all walks of the company, just doing customer service: going into reservations, making changes for people manually, doing everything we could. And if sometimes it seems like it’s an uncaring business that you’re dealing with, it’s worth remembering that there is a human who is trying to do what they see as right or what they see as the best of some options available.  

View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about the challenges and successes of marketing in the airline industry during a global pandemic.  

Posted by Aaron Smith

CEO at Sageflo