Airlines have been constantly rolling out various marketing campaigns that cater to the ever changing behaviour of travellers and technology changes.
Simpliflying, an aviation consulting company, and Airlinetrends, an industry research agency, studied more than 350 airline marketing campaigns launched by more than 70 airlines globally.
The study segments the various campaigns into seven key airline marketing trends in 2014.
Below are the trends:
1. Micro events
These are the list of onboard events that airlines organize to surprise passengers - ranging from flash mobs to inflight performances and product giveaways.
The study says "The best sign of a well-executed micro event is the number of passengers pulling out their smartphones".
Examples of micro events include,
Inflight golf by Air New Zealand: The airline re-carpeted the aisles of one of its planes with golf-green-sheet to give its passengers a golf playing experience at 30,000 feet.
But, not every micro-event ended happily for airlines. For example, Indian low cost carrier SpiceJet's initiative to do a short dance (onboard) to celebrate the festival of Holi ended up in suspension of two of pilots:
2. Cool tech
This section talks about the various initiatives that married technology with flying experience.
For example, British Airway hosted an inflight hackathon event called "Ungrounded" while Emirates hosted a 24-hour travel hackathon in Silicon Valley that attracted 300 developers and designers.
Here's a hack event held by Spanish low cost carrier, Vueling:
3. Visual culture
This section emphasizes the importance of rich media such as pictures and videos in airline marketing. The various picture-based social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat speak for themselves in terms of the impact of rich visuals on users.
The Selfie takes this visual culture to a whole new height.
Turkish Airline's Selfie Shootout video has crossed 138 million views in YouTube (the ROI of this campaign - here):
4. People power
Taking advantage of the social media platforms to engage fans/users to test crowdsourcing concepts for commercial purposes.
For example, KLM's "Social Offer" asked Facebook fans to vote for the top two destinations they would like to fly to. Then, for those two destinations, the airline created a social offer - every time the offer was shared in social channels, the price was reduced. With this initiative, the airline experienced a 700% increase in bookings than a normal day.
5. Emerging markets
Initiatives were tailored to resonate with the local culture of emerging markets, such as BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Airlines launch their marketing initiatives in the local popular social networks such as China's Weibo and RenRen, and Russia's VK.
For example, British Airways recently launched a series of promotions targeting the Indian travellers.
BA's Visit Mum campaign:
BA's "Go further to get close" campaign launched on valentines day:
6. The innovation is the marketing
Airline product or service innovations designed for marketing purposes, such as smartwatch digital boarding passes by Vueling and AirBerlin.
Virgin Atlantic's Google Glass enabled customer service:
WestJet surprised its passengers by bringing them the exact gifts they asked Santa Claus for at a digital booth in an airport:
7. Outdoor creativity
Unconventional outdoor advertising that sparks people's interest.
Philippine's low cost carrier Cebu Pacific’s launched a "Rain Codes" campaign in Hong Kong where the airline used water repellent spray to paint its ad on the roads. During the monsoon season in Hong Kong, the ads were clearly seen, resulting in a 37% increase in online bookings: