By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 May 2013 | Eindhoven Airport, the Netherlands’ second-largest airport, has embraced social media technology in a novel way by offering a select number of its Facebook fans several perks when they fly via the airport.
Anyone who likes Eindhoven Airport’s Facebook page and is due to fly from it can sign up to its ‘VIP’ scheme, and two fans are selected each month from the pool of entrants. The ‘VIP fans’ can then enjoy the benefits of one free airport meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner – flight-time dependent), fast-track security screening, personal accompaniment and free parking at a designated Facebook-marked spot in a prime location near the terminal entrance point.
The Eindhoven Airport Facebook VIP programme sign-up process is straightforward. Once the airport’s Facebook page has been ‘liked’, there’s a simple form to complete, requiring users to input their name, date of birth, email address, telephone number, the number of people travelling, the date of travel and the relevant flight number. Video of the program here.
Social media presence
In the past 7 months, Eindhoven Airport has added over 11,000 fans on Facebook and with the Facebook VIP scheme the airport wanted to do something in return for its online fans. Says Eindhoven Airport’s CEO, Joost Meijs, “Eindhoven Airport is working very hard on its online presence, with regularly the highest engagement rate on Facebook of all Dutch airports and the sixth position in the list of most popular check-in spots in the Netherlands. With a rapidly growing number of Facebook fans the time was right for us to offer our fans something extra.”
Read full article »
This article appears in the May edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world.
5 May 2013 | One of the hardest marketing messages to convey is that you are current, and understand the market. ‘Silicon Valley favourite’ Virgin America is one of the best examples of this. Easy to recognize thanks to its iconic cabin lighting and hip and forward-looking approach to airline travel, Virgin America has firmly established itself as a favoured choice among the urban, tech savvy flying demographic. In fact, one of the airline’s aircraft is dubbed #nerdbird to celebrate the large number of Wi-Fi users travelling on the San Francisco-Boston route, thanks to their fleet-wide onboard wi-fi and USB and power outlets at every seat.
Recently more and more airlines are embracing their inner-geek to stay ahead of the trend-curve and cleverly selling themself as geek-chic.
#newAmerican x SXSW
American Airlines has pushed hard to shake off its old image, trying to prove that its new brand image is more than skin-deep. The airline organized a hack-a-thon at the annual SXSW event in Austin last March, allowing more than 60 developers to work with American’s travel API for the first time to see what they could come up with to further develop the users experience with the airline.
At the end of the event a total of 15 apps were created, based on over a total of 1800 man hours. The winning App entry was ‘AirPing’, which was a multi use tool for both airline and customer, providing live updates to flight changes and delays with estimate travel time to the airport.
The event also saw American launch a ‘Napkin Pitch Contest’, where travelers could pitch a business idea to the airline to make the world a better place, all on a simple airline napkin. Passengers could either complete a form online or drop their napkin into boxes located at the #newAmerican lounge at the Austin Convention Center and the Startup America Lounge at the Austin Hilton.
The latest venture for the carrier is to launch an investment fund for start up companies. The project is known internally as Blue Ocean, and the fund could invest money in entrepreneurs, startups and incubators, but it could also use its resources to fly entrepreneurs to investor meetings, or help them with awarding points, or in other non-monetary in-kind ways.
Delta x TED
Delta also turned more Star Trek than airline in February, showcasing its renewed focus on sleep at the annual TED conference in an innovative way. The airline hosted a talk from renowned Oxford neuroscientist and sleep expert Dr. Russell Foster addressing jet lag and how the eye tells time and demonstrate his research in action with a so-called ‘Photon Shower’ – a small light chamber that conference attendees could enter for a short period of time to help reset their body clocks through a personalized light treatment.
Delta has also teamed with TED to generate innovative crowd-sourced ideas to improve the travel experience, called ‘Ideas in Flight’. The program uses curated TEDTalks in social media as thought-starters to inspire their community, across technology, entertainment, design, etcetera. Ideas can be submitted through a dedicated tab on the Delta Facebook page, but passengers can also use the in-flight Wi-Fi for free to go to a dedicated ‘Ideas In Flight’ website which can only be accessed while onboard Delta transcontinental flights.
Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
17 October 2012 | Virgin America, probably the most tech-savvy airline in the industry, plans to revolutionise its approach to customer service. Next year the airline will further upgrade its already advanced RED IFE system with a service built on Salesforce.com’s Chatter social messaging tool. This will allow passengers to interact with the carrier via the entertainment screens on the back of seats during the flight to deal with “real-time problems that need real-time answers”, according to the airline’s CEO David Cush. Virgin America already allows passengers to message each other during a flight, but with Chatter they will also be able to interact with Virgin America support staff on the ground.
How it works
A Salesforce.com-based CRM dashboard provides Virgin America customer service agents with information about each customer’s last three interactions on social media and their flight history, which allows them to send a targeted message.
For example, a customer tweeting about being worried about missing a flight will be served up a response via Chatter on the screen in front of their seat with information on how they can make their next connection. Customer service personnel on the ground could also take pro-active action to alert a passenger to a potential problem, such as a bag not having made it on the flight, through a pop-up alert on the screen.
Passengers, meanwhile, will find a personalized environment on their IFE system. For example, Virgin America is looking to not just give passengers details about their frequent flyer points, but also suggest entertainment and food & beverage choices on what they have watched before or eaten on previous trips, as well as airport maps of where they go to make connecting flights. The system also gives all passengers brief profiles on other passengers as a conversation starter for the seat-to-seat chat function.
Furthermore, passengers can contact Virgin America’s customer service staff via the IFE system to ask if they have been upgraded on the next leg of their travel and get quick feedback. When watching a movie, the IFE screen will signal passengers that they have received a notification from the airline.
Read full article »
By Shubhodeep Pal, SimpliFlying
10 July 2012 | Lufthansa’s “Blue Legends” Facebook app is one of the first ten “Connected Apps” to be offered as a product of Foursquare‘s new development platform. In a nutshell, Foursquare now allows developers to create apps that offer customized experiences to customers based on their check-ins.
Lufthansa has seized this new opportunity in the Foursquare eco system to create official Lufthansa venues (including over 9,000 flights named in the format “Lufthansa Flight LH 400″) where users can check-in virtually to get special badges, ranks and rewards.
For instance, once connected with Foursquare and Facebook, you can earn badges such as the “Early-Bird-badge” by checking in before 6 in the morning. There are more virtual goodies as you fly more on Lufthansa (and, of course, remember to check-in to their official locations).
One of the undeniably attractive features of the app is that its written in HTML5 which allows it to be accessed from almost every platform – desktop and mobile – with ease, without being confined to a closed app ecosystem (such as iOS or Android).
An increasingly “gamified” and location-aware world
As you move up the ladder, you’ll find that the badges and ranks (similar to mayorships) are increasingly targeted towards frequent flyers. Lufthansa believes that this customized experience by offering special virtual badges in recognition for flying the airline will “open a whole new dimension of social travel experience for frequent flyers who can not only track their countries and airports they’ve visited with the app but can compete with their friends to become the “Expert Pilot” on a route between two cities.” This rank is given to the person who has travelled most between two destinations – independent from the Lufthansa flight he took or airport of the city he travelled to.
Read full article »
19 April 2012 | Catering to increasingly sophisticated passengers who want to try something new besides the generic soda and alcohol brands available onboard, a growing number of airlines serve local niche beverages inflight, which adds an authentic element to the experience and supports the local economy as well.
Virgin America, Porter, Alaska AIrlines
Especially, small to medium-sized airlines in North America offer local microbrews onboard, as they are more rooted in local communities, while their relatively small scale allows local breweries to guarantee supply.
For example, Virgin America offers local beers from micro breweries such as Gordon Biersch, Black Star and Blue Moon, as well as Californian wines and premium spirits, for sale through its touch screen IFE ordering system. Passengers onboard Alaska Airlines’ subsidiary Horizon Air can choose from a selection of free wines and microbrews from the Pacific Northwest. And emphasizing its Toronto roots, Canadian boutique airline Porter Airlines serves complimentary beer from the local ‘Steam Whistle Brewing Company’, whose brewery is located less than two kilometres from Porter’s base at Toronto’s City Centre Airport.
The latest airline to ‘tap’ into the local beverage trend is Denver, Colorado-based Frontier Airlines. Combining two popular trends – local catering and social media – Frontier has just launched a Facebook campaign in which it asks the public to vote for their favourite local beer to be served onboard Frontier’s flights. In the airline’s words: “What’s on tap? You tell us. We’re having you – our fans and passengers – choose which local Colorado beer to feature onboard each month as part of our rotating tap. This month choose between Dale’s Pale Ale, Upslope Pale Ale, Colorado Native, or Crabtree Oatmeal Stout. Voting ends May 15 and the winning Colorado brew will be featured onboard starting June 1.”
Read full article »
7 February 2012 | KLM today has launched a ‘Meet & Seat’ scheme which encourages passengers to pick seatmates by checking out social media profiles of fellow passengers who link to their profiles during check-in. The idea is that flyers will be able to find out about interesting people who will be on board their KLM flight, for example other passengers attending the same event at the destination. The ‘social seating’ feature has been launched on flights between Amsterdam and San Francisco, Sao Paolo and New York City with plans to extend it to other intercontinental destinations shortly.
Although the idea of the ‘social flight’ in itself is not entirely new – it was coined by digital media guru Jeff Jarvis a few years ago, while airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Estonian Air have experimented with the concept – KLM’s new ‘Meet & Seat’ tool takes the idea of ‘social seating’ a step further, as until now social media users could only connect with their friends before a flight, while KLM allows anyone to connect with anyone.
KLM says it is trying to give travellers a more “inspirational journey” with the service enabling them to see who is on the flight, perhaps meet for a coffee beforehand, select seats next to each other or share a taxi at the other end. The tool will be opt-in only, to allow the many travellers who view flight time as private time.
How it works
Passengers who have booked a KLM flight from Amsterdam to New York, San Francisco or Sao Paulo (or back), can go to KLM.com and log in to the ‘Manage my Booking’ section. They then go to the ‘Seating’ tab, click ‘Meet & Seat’ and connect their social profiles with their booking by logging in to their Facebook or LinkedIn account.
Read full article »
6 February 2012 | Scandinavian Airlines is one of the few ‘full-service’ airlines in Europe that let passengers in Economy on European flights pay seperately for their drinks and meals. Brussels Airlines and Iberia are among European airlines with a similar catering service on short-haul flights, while no doubt other European full-service carriers are contemplating this concept for their loss-making short-haul operations.
However, as complimentary coffee and tea in Economy is “one of the most asked for products by customers”, SAS at the end of January 2012 reintroduced the free amenity on all its domestic and European routes.
“Free tea and coffee, but the design is up to you”
To promote the introduction of the ‘upgraded’ service, SAS has just launched a public contest for the design of a new paper mug (current design here) to be used on its flights. In the airline’s words: “Now we serve free coffee and tea to everyone on our flights, both domestic and to the rest of the world. You can make sure that we do it in style. Take part in our competition to design the new coffee cups on SAS flights. If your design is the best one, not only will we serve coffee and tea in YOUR design to more than 70.000 passengers every day, but you will also get 100.000 EuroBonus Extra-points.”
Participants in the contest have to use a template for their design and can submit it at flysas.com/design before February 29th 2012. A SAS jury will then select the ten best designs, which will presented on the campaign website www.flysas.com/design and on SAS’ social media channels in the first week of March. After the general public has casted their votes for their favourite design, the winning design will be announced 20 March 2012 and will be featured on the cups for 3 to 6 months.
Read full article »
13 December 2011 | In a follow-up to last year’s campaign, Finnair in September 2011 launched a new public search for so-called ‘Quality Hunters’, this year in partnership with Helsinki Airport. Seven Quality Hunters, chosen from hundreds of applicants, travelled around the world for 48 days throughout October and November 2011, collecting ideas and insights on how Finnair and Helsinki Airport could improve the flight and airport experience. An eighth “Bonus Hunter” joined the group in November on the basis of his social media activities.
Each Quality Hunter was given a theme to focus on: food & beverages, entertainment, socialising, travel in business class, services, shopping and “on the move”. Their task was to collect product and service ideas and present them to Finnair and Helsinki Airport at the end of the project in early December. Finnair and Helsinki Airport in turn would commit to the best ideas for implementation. Says Finnair “We don’t need a list of flaws (we’re painfully aware of most of them already!) but we want to know how to fix things and go even beyond that.” […] ”As a part of renewing our entire service identity, we want to go further in charting the black spots of travel and finding creative solutions to resolve them.”
The Quality Hunters blogged and tweeted daily about their observations and ideas, made videos and acted as community managers. Visitors to the Quality Hunters website could set tasks for them, make comments and share their opinions, while passengers at Helsinki Airport could drop by at the Hunter’s Lounge, located between gates 32-38.
Read full article »
14 November 2011 | One of the most compelling aspects of location-based social networks such as Foursquare and Facebook Places are their game dynamic, which rewards users with virtual badges for checking into venues repeatedly, thereby promoting a venue or brand to their friends through Facebook and Twitter. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, Virgin America and JetBlue have launched campaigns that reward their fans and followers for ‘checking in’ into their virtual venues.
The initiatives by these airlines are early steps in what is called the ‘gamification’ trend, which is described by JWT as “Brands applying game mechanics –incentives and rewards such as leader boards, leveling, stored value, privileges, superpowers, status indicators, etc.– to non-gaming spaces in an attempt to drive certain actions or behaviors.” Gamification can encourage people to perform taks that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites, and according to trendwatching.com it taps into basic human needs: “Fun and entertaining, games allow players to visualize progress, while satisfying fundamental needs and desires – for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition, and altruism.” For more on ‘gamification’, we recommend reading ‘Gamification 101: The Psychology of Motivation’.
Moving beyond location-based reward schemes such as TopGuest, companies such as Badgeville, CrowdTwist, Gamify and Manumatrix have created ‘white label’ social loyalty platforms that allow members to earn points, unlock badges, and be featured on a leaderboard as they engage in various activities such as watching videos, commenting on articles, reviewing, “Liking” or tweeting products and promotions, posting photo’s on Instagram, and participating in polls. Examples of social loyalty programs include ‘Samsung Nation’ and the upcoming Hilton Social HHonors (site is not yet live).
Estonian Air ‘AirScore’
In late October 2011, Estonian Air, flag-carrier of the tiny but internet-savvy Baltic nation, became the first airline in the world to launch a social loyalty programme on Facebook, rewarding its customers and fans for being strong advocates online. Called AirScore, the scheme allows customers and fans to get rewards for promotional actions such as sharing a review of the airline or tweeting a deal. Read full article »
9 November 2011 | The airline industry is busy experimenting with various social media initiatives that aim to use the power of the crowd. Airlines such as Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and British Airways have been tapping into the creativity of the general public to crowdsource products as diverse as designs of loyalty cards, eyemasks, and catering items such as cocktails, snacks and desserts. Meanwhile, Virgin America and Southwest, among others, have recently held ‘crowd clout’ campaigns with group buying site Groupon, offering consumers a deal when enough buyers would commit to the offer.
Scandinavian Airlines’ (SAS) ‘Sommerflyet’ (‘summer plane’) campaign has tapped into ‘the wisdom of crowds’ to determine its next destination. The airline recently announced it would start 21 new leisure destinations for its summer 2012 schedule and reserved one of its aircraft next summer in order to let its more than 110,000 Facebook fans choose a 22nd destination.
Says Christian Kamhaug, Head of Social Media at SAS, “Every summer SAS reduces capacity on its domestic networks in Scandinavia. These are mainly business-driven, high-frequency routes, and as we all have 4 to 5 weeks of vacation here in Scandinavia, business traffic grinds to a halt in June and July. SAS used to park planes and send crews on vacation, but in the last couple of years costs have been cut by 23 percent and now it’s more profitable to operate these planes, even to low-yield leisure routes.” […] “More than 110 000 people follow Scandinavian Airlines on Facebook and we think it is great to let our most dedicated fans influence our product in this way.”
Read full article »
1 September 2011 | Despite the large number of travel-related social networks around, several airlines have launched social networks of their own in the past years. Think BA’s Metrotwin, Virgin Atlantic’s vtravelled.com, Air France-KLM’s Bluenity and American Airlines’ BlackAtlas.com. Other airlines, such as KLM (Club China, Club Africa, Flying Blue Golf), Lufthansa (Miles & More MemberScout), BA (Face-to-Face, and Etihad (Golf Club, IndiaConnect) have launched business-oriented social networks for members of their frequent flyer programs.
The fortunes of these communities have been mixed, as shown by a lack of conversations between members and outdated feature content. The basic idea f an airline-facilitated online community makes sense though, as the airline business is essentially about connecting people. The latest kid on the block is Qantas, which in June 2011 launched a community build around food and wine.
Aiming to tap into its 7.8 million members-base, Qantas Frequent Flyer, the loyalty program of Qantas, has launched EpiQure as a more in-depth feature of its existing program. Combining the online community with real-life events, the wine and food community gives members access to “on-line forums to gain knowledge from industry experts, wine selected by the Qantas Wine Panel, personalised winery tours in every Australian wine region and invitation to dinners with globally renowned chefs.” Among the Australian chefs to be part of the community is Qantas in-flight consultant and celebrity chef, Neil Perry, who designed the airline’s international in-flight menu.
Read full article »
3 August 2011 | Dutch national airline KLM is developing a reputation when it comes to digital media campaigns that combine the online, virtual environment with the offline, real world. Examples include a Delft Blue Tiles livery based on Facebook profile pictures, passengers who are randomly surprised with a personal gift, a commercial flight exclusively sold via Twitter, and free customized luggage tags. In the past weeks, the airline has launched several more “OFF=ON” initiatives.
Hard-copy customized city guides
KLM currently lets the public create and customize their own travel guide, to be printed and delivered to their home address for free. Visitors to the KLM Cityguide website can select the sites, activities and hot spots they would like to visit at their destination via a number of questions. The final result is then turned into a pocket-sized guide that consists of 3 chapters (and 12 activities in total) and a map. The printed city guides can be ordered by residents of 10 European countries, as well as the United States and Canada. Delivery is within 4 weeks. For other countries, the personalized city guide can be downloaded as PDF file. KLM’s free hard-copy guides were so popular that heavy traffic caused the website to go offline on the first day of the campaign.
KLM Surprise, summer edition
In a follow up to the very successful ‘Surprise’ campaign, which took place at the end of 2010, KLM has just launched the KLM Surprise ‘Summer Edition’. Combining social media with real-world interactions, the KLM ‘Surprise team’, consisting of staff from the airline’s E-commerce, Ground Services and Inflight Services departments, from mid-July to mid-August randomly surprises passengers with ‘little acts of kindness’ based on information found on the passenger’s social network profile(s) or in recent tweets. Since most people have profiles on social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin these days (in fact, more Americans now have Facebook accounts than have passports) it is relatively easy to find some interesting facts about a person in order to come up with a creative surprise.
Read full article »
11 July 2011 | Following earlier crowdsourcing initiatives by airlines like Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Emirates, which have been turned into actual products such as elements of in-flight menus and amenity kits, British Airways has launched a co-creation campaign in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games under the strapline ’We Can Help Your Talent Fly’.
BA Great Britons
As part of its ‘Great Britons’ programme, launched in 2009, BA is inviting aspiring chefs, scriptwriters and artists to submit their ideas for an onboard menu, in-flight movie and aircraft livery. The winner of each category will then receive one-to-one mentoring from culinary expert Heston Blumenthal, actor Richard E Grant and artist Tracey Emin to develop their idea further.
The winner of the food category will produce a bold British menu, in cooperation with Michelin-star restaurant owner and chef Heston Blumenthal, which will be served on board BA flights around the Games. The winner in the film category will receive mentoring from actor, scriptwriter and director Richard E Grant, to write a short film. The final production will be broadcast on board BA flights in the run up to the Games, and showcased at the pre-show to the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. In the art category, Turner Prize nominated artist and Royal Academician Tracey Emin will mentor the winner to produce an iconic piece of artwork for the livery of 12 BA aircraft.
Read full article »
26 May 2011 | In early May 2011, Lufthansa’s 7th A380 entered into daily service on the Frankfurt – San Francisco route. To promote its A380 destinations in the USA – New York, San Francisco and Miami (from 10 June 2011 on) – Lufthansa has launched a Facebook campaign in which it offers its virtual fans a real, tangible, reward.
Facebook members can book a virtual flight on a Lufthansa A380 flight from the USA to Frankfurt, and the more ‘likes’ their flight gets, the bigger the discount voucher.
How it works: Participants must ‘like’ Lufthansa on Facebook, submit a ‘virtual flight’ by selecting an origin and destination from Lufthansa’s timetable, get their Facebook friends to ‘like’ their virtual flight within a 24 hour time period that begins upon the submission of the virtual flight. Participants who create a virtual flight but receive less then 10 ‘likes’ on Facebook automatically receive a USD25 discount voucher, with the amount rising to USD50 with 10 to 29 ‘likes’, USD75 with 30 to 59 ‘likes’, while those who get 60 friends to like their A380 flight, receive a USD100 discount voucher. A maximum of 15,000 discount vouchers will be awarded in each denomination and a purchase is required to use the discount voucher.
Read full article »
27 April 2011 | KLM has just launched a new social media campaign that invites Facebook users to convert their Facebook profile picture into a Delft Blue tile with an inspiring message. Four thousand of the most inspiring ‘Dutch Delft Blue tiles’ will then be placed on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200. In KLM’s words: “KLM is proud of its Dutch heritage, in which Delftware played a huge role. Now KLM invites you to create your own Delft Blue tile, add an inspirational saying and you might end up on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200.”
Delft Blue tiles are part of the Dutch tradition. The porcelain tiles were decorated with typically Dutch scenes, such as windmills or fishing boats. These Dutch scenes were commonly supported by some words of wisdom or an inspirational proverb. For nearly 60 years, KLM has also handed out small Delft Blue ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class.
The emphasis of KLM’s ‘Tile & Inspire’ campaign is on Facebook, but anyone can also create a personal Delft Blue tile via tileyourself.com and Hyves, the largest social network in the Netherlands. The campaign will run until the end of May 2011 and the tiles with the most creative messages will be selected by a jury of native speakers in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. The final 4,000 Delft Blue tiles will be randomly drawn out of the selected tiles and be featured on a KLM B777-200 aircraft from June 16 on. See this video for more on the campaign.