Dublin-based Mark Lenahan is a software product management and travel technology specialist. We sat down with Mark to ask him some questions about his work, travel and where he thinks the most value is in each travel loyalty program…
Mighty Travels: What is CJ Ignition?
Mark Lenahan: We are a small and very specialised consultancy consisting of myself and Cormac Corrigan. We focus on running workshops to help travel companies and travel technology vendors understand where they sit in the wider eco-system and improve customer experience and loyalty.
Mighty Travels: Do you mainly travel for business or pleasure?
Mark Lenahan: Most of my travel is for business, generally short trips to work at customer sites or attend meetings and events. That said, I try to add at least a half a day of experience to every trip.
Mighty Travels: Tell us about your involvement with Travel Massive.
Mark Lenahan: Along with Kevin O’Shaughnessy (founder and CEO of ground transport company Indigo GT) I run the Dublin chapter of Travel Massive. We run 3 or 4 events every year (often free), with a focus on networking and interviews or panel discussions.
Mighty Travels: What’s one piece of advice you can give us on the travel industry?
Mark Lenahan: Focus on the customer. Everyone says this and everyone thinks it is obvious, and many big brands think they do it but are fooling themselves. Airlines are consistently poorly rated for customer experience when compared to the consumer or digital brands. We have a very disconnected industry – people are passed like parcels from search engine to agency to airline to taxi to hotel and back again and nobody owns the end to end experience.
Mighty Travels: Where do you think is the most value in each travel loyalty program for both a company and its consumers and how this changed over time?
Mark Lenahan: The value in loyalty programs, especially travel-based ones, has traditionally resided in the currency and access to the member base. Brands look to Delta and AA, who make more than US$2bn a year each, and JV Coalitions like Aeroplan, Air Miles, Nectar, etc. Most of their value comes from their large scale and high credit card usage and interchange fees, which doesn’t necessarily translate into other markets. I think the revenue opportunity is still there but brands need to try to come up with models that focus on delivering lifetime value and reducing customer acquisition cost. You want the emotional connection to be with the brand, rather than just the currency.