Applying American Airlines’ Experience Lessons to Your Attendees

Author: David McMillin       

One of the biggest airlines in the U.S. managed to increase passenger satisfaction by 15 percent last year. At the PCMA Education Conference, participants will hear from one of the creative thinkers who helped drive those positive results.

When most travelers think of boarding planes, their minds focus on the potential frustrations: delays, non-existent leg room, and lost luggage. However, American Airlines is on a path toward turning those thoughts to things of a more positive nature. More than 35,000 of its employees have participated in a change initiative called Elevate the Everyday Experience since the middle of 2016. The program, developed in partnership with Root Inc., focuses on transforming gate agents, ticket-counter representatives, and flight attendants into “experience makers,” transforming customer experiences into “exceptional” experiences.

According to customer feedback, it’s already paying off with a 15-percent increase in passenger satisfaction and a 17-percent decrease in complaints about agents’ attitudes. It’s only the beginning, too. The company expects another 35,000 employees to complete the program in 2018.

Your next conference or event may not seem to share much in common with a major airline, but your organization most likely confronts some of the same issues that have created turbulence for American: internal communication challenges, a lack of a well-articulated strategy for innovation, and unfulfilled customer promises.

At the PCMA Education Conference from June 10–13, participants will be able to hear from one of the change-agents who helped American address those problems. Gary Magenta, senior vice president and chief change architect of Root Inc. will kick off the closing day in Cleveland with a keynote address on the need to embrace and create a culture of disruption. However, Magenta won’t just be talking; he will also introduce the Education Conference audience to the idea-generation activities that companies like American Airlines use to develop strategies for success in a business environment fueled by disruptive forces.

“The second half of the session is a workshop that will give everyone an opportunity to be part of a disruptor challenge,” Tonya Almond, CMP, vice president, knowledge and experience design, PCMA, said. “However, it won’t just be about the general topic of disruption. The audience will focus on a challenge specific to our industry. In addition to working to solve the problem, the workshop will help them apply questions to their own organizations.”

Almond said that the interactive format in the Main Stage environment speaks to PCMA’s willingness to try something different each year. “Education Conference has evolved over the past decade, and as we continually test new designs and new educational approaches, it’s become a favorite for our audience,” Almond said. “Last year, the program featured sessions away from the venue to create immersive experiences. Now, we are shifting the focus to create an engaging content strategy that includes an experiential environment.”

Check out the complete schedule for a preview of more content, and register here to join your peers in Cleveland.

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