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Travelogue – A weekend in Jakarta March 29, 2013

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Travel.
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A visual travelogue from my weekend getaway to Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2012. This was my first trip on Emirates Airline since joining them. Enjoyed the journey on Business Class onboard the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. Lovely flight, fantastic service. Jakarta is a very chilled out destination. Very green city. Extremely friendly people. The welcoming smiles begin at the Visa on Arrival counter. It is one of the most populous cities in the Far East and can be a bit overwhelming, however I was able to find my unique oasis of tranquility. I enjoyed a relaxing stay at Le Meridien, watched the rains from my window, did a bit of mall crawling and city hopping, and caught up on much-needed sleep, before jetting back to Dubai. I wouldn’t mind going back to Jakarta again. Bali as well, next time!

All pics clicked on iPhone 4s.

 

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My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines April 2, 2012

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Social Media, Travel, UAE.
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24 comments

I’m a loyal customer of India’s Kingfisher Airlines. I first flew Kingfisher in Jan 2011 but since then I have flown them 15 times. I fly them as much as possible. I often pay a premium to fly them even when I have cheaper or non-stop flights available. I even recommend it to those who are looking for flights to India. The only time I flew another airline to India instead of Kingfisher I felt like I was cheating on a partner.

What I like the most about Kingfisher is how they make me feel special when I fly with them. Another reason I love to fly them is their social media engagement. I became a loyal Kingfisher customer because of how they engaged with me on social media the first time I flew with them and have been connected to me since then.

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What every brand can learn from Finnair’s social media content strategy January 31, 2012

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Social Media.
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1 comment so far

I’m a huge fan of Finnair’s content strategy on social media. Suddenly, content strategy sounds like a buzzword. So for the sake of simplicity, I’d say unique and creative ways of connecting with travelers and creating buzz.

If I could create a manifesto for them, it would be something like:

At Finnair, let us create engaging content by –

  1. Focusing on passion points that people already love
  2. Being relevant and topical
  3. Being emotionally appealing
  4. Owning the experience at all touch points
  5. Ensuring attention to detail
  6. Having fun while creating the experience

It’s not easy bringing all these elephants into one room, but if and when you do, you have created magic.

It started in September 2011 with the Angry Birds flight from Helsinki to Singapore featuring the first ever Angry Birds Asian Challenge (sponsored by Samsung and Roxio). They branded and owned the experience like no other, from a creative and execution point of view. The entire plane, airport, crew and in-flight experience screamed Angry Birds. They got the passengers to play an in-flight Angry Birds challenge. Even served Angry Birds cupcakes when they landed in Singapore.

Check out these delightful snaps from the Angry Birds flight at Travelerfolio.

And then they did it again in January 2012 with the Bollywood dance video on a flight to New Delhi to celebrate India’s Republic Day. The video has nearly 3.5 million video views as of today and tons of positive PR. They spotted an opportunity at the unique intersection that Indian airlines or other international airlines majorly serving India missed – India’s love affair with Bollywood and patriotic feelings inspired by the Republic Day. And the fact that Indians would warmly appreciate the gesture by a ‘foreign airline’.

The secret here to create engaging content is to have an open slate, tell an interesting story and not be restricted by the canvas of your industry. Think about who you are targeting, what captures their interest most and be creative about it while having fun. The views will take off and the buzz will happen.

Will Air India’s flight to social media take off? April 11, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Conversations, India, Marketing, Social Media.
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Pic credit: Daniel Villa, Airliners.net

In the high-flying world where aviation meets social media, the impossible turned possible today. India’s government-owned national airline Air India announced it was stepping into social media with a clear mandate to generate at least 30% revenue as an ROI.

In a Financial Express news report by Shaheen Mansuri, Arvind Jadhav, AI’s chairman and managing director said, “Until now, we were unable to provide a flexible pricing and customised products to our customers. While other airlines have their presence on Facebook and Twitter, we were missing from that space.

Once brand AI is exposed to a larger audience, it can translate into more sales. Social networking sites have opened up a new distribution platform for the airline. The traditional travel agents and travel websites will co-exist with the new medium,” said Jadhav.

You can read the entire story here.

I had several interesting responses after I shared the story on Twitter which was first broken by the evergreen diva @TobyDiva.

Air India to join social media w/ an ROI goal of increasing sales by 30%. http://ht.ly/4xpDx via @TobyDiva

Few responses:

Jesus! They’re gonna get butchered! Via @DeveshM

WOW! Xcited Via @vishal1mehra

air india using social media would be a pretty stupid initiative in my way..n 30% sales from there sounds insane! Via @aseemrastogi2

This will probably end up like CCD when they entered the social media scene: a lot of unhappy customers who compained non stop. Via @Thor_

My view on #AirIndia & #socialmedia is that they can go two ways…but the #Airline had better do it right to be effective. #smtravel Via @flyingwithfish

If#AirIndia can’t breaks it’s habit of not effectively addressing passengers & protecting it’s brand, #socialmedia won’t succeed Via @flyingwithfish

AI is certainly a late bird after the social media worm; shud’ve emulated Jet & Kingfisher well ahead. Via @StoryMary

I Would say to everyone: “If you’re not in #SocMed yet you’re too late” Via @eezeer

No use without changing hostesses. Via @Askabuska

Here are a couple of my thoughts:

1.    Today Air India is strategically and operationally at a critical juncture. New aviation minister at the helm, overview of top management after the departure of COO Baldauf and his deputies, debt restructuring in process, the much awaited Dreamliners joining the fleet soon, the forthcoming entry into Star Alliance etc. Social media can now step in as a part of an image makeover – the journey to a new Air India. However, this image makeover will have to reflect in the way airline treats customers & offers them an experience that is no less compared to what the competition is offering them.

2.    Air India can be sure to get a lot of negative PR and feedback on their social media platforms. The airline has unfortunately had a legacy of poor service and this is going to show clearly when consumers engage with the airline on social media. How they manage the negative feedback and win over audiences is going to be very crucial.

3.    The best brands on social media are the best brands in business. There’s only so much social media can do to make you look good. If you do not deliver on your core customer promise or if you don’t do your job right, you should never be on social media. Period.

4.    The danger of using social media as a broadcast medium is that it will bite you in the back. Social cannot be a me-too approach as a response to your competition being on it. However, I appreciate the assertiveness shown by Mr Jadhav on utilizing the medium for generating revenues. Air India’s competitors such as Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines are doing a great job engaging with their customers on social media. Competition on the airline social media airwaves in India will be intense.

5.    Is Air India ready for the big step it is to take? Are they aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls of engaging in the medium? Do they have the resources in place to execute a social media strategy that will work for them? Lots more questions that time will answer.

Good luck, Air India and welcome aboard the social media bandwagon!

So is Air India going to make it or break it in social media? Would love to hear your thoughts.

The King of Good Times: A social media surprise from Kingfisher Airlines February 25, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Conversations, India, Social Media, Travel.
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10 comments

As an aviation geek & a social media marketing professional, I keep a close eye out on airlines that are blitzing the social media trail.

On last count, there are over 180 airlines on Twitter. Every airline worth their salt is on Facebook building communities and rewarding loyalty via contests.


What I love most about airlines that are doing social media right is: those who are using social media to listen to their customers and offer them delightful surprises. Such a rare experience happened to me last month, via Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines, based out of India is one of the world’s seven airlines to be ranked as a 5-star airline by Skytrax. They fly to 63 domestic destinations and 8 international destinations with an Airbus & ATR fleet. Headed by one of India’s most flamboyant tycoons Dr Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher has built a strong brand for itself in service and quality over the years. It wouldn’t be unfair to call Kingfisher the Virgin America of Indian skies.

I have watched Kingfisher’s meteoric rise and often lamented the fact that I have never flown them, primarily because they don’t fly out of Muscat. Anyhow, a great opportunity to try Kingfisher for the first time came up last month and I decided to fly them outbound on Dubai-Bengaluru-Cochin and Chennai-Bengaluru-Dubai on my inbound leg.

Kingfisher is active on Twitter and as always, I tweeted before my departure that I was flying them. I received a reply from them asking me to enjoy their service. Quite the appropriate thing to do on social media, yes?

I arrive at Dubai Airport on the date of my departure, stood in a snaking queue of flustered passengers waiting to check-in. When my turn came, I noticed the check-in agent spend a few extra seconds looking at her screen and then proceeded to consult with her supervisor before handing me a complimentary Lounge Access card. Now, how great is that?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t check out the Lounge as I was running late for my flight, so I boarded the all economy A321 and we were soon wheels up to Bengaluru. After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew started meal service. I noticed that they rolled up the cart straight to where I was sitting (somewhere in the middle of the plane) and asked me “Mr Rajagopal, what would you like to have for dinner?”

That was an absolute stunner for me. I know in premium classes it is a practice for crew to know beforehand who they are serving, but moi flying in Y class (or cattle class as one prominent Indian politician once described the back of the bus)? The crew knew my name and that was an absolutely delightful surprise for me. They served me well & I sure got a few envious looks from around the cabin.

The 2 cabin crew members who worked my section would come up to me once in a while and ensure that I was all comfy. Nothing artificial, but a genuine and warm desire to serve well, which is sadly missing from a lot of airlines this day. Believe you me, these are the little, personal touches that make flying such a lovely experience for me.

When I inquired how the crew knew me by name, I was told that they were informed beforehand that I would be flying with them and was asked to take special care of me. Social media at work, yes? 🙂

I felt like the ‘king of good times’ as I thoroughly enjoyed my flight and didn’t forget to compliment Kingfisher in my feedback form (I believe they should look at the paper quality of the form as ball point pens don’t write well on them – minor detail, I know).

I landed early morning at Bengaluru and almost missed my connecting flight to Cochin due to a security snafu. I literally missed my bus to the plane. However, the kind people at Kingfisher got me ferried to the waiting ATR in their car just in time. I hopped on the plane and we were off. Trust me on this; they could have left without me. Will never forget the sight of an ATR waiting on the ground on a misty morning, the crew peeping out of the door and me diving into it with my rucksack pulling me back. Reminded me of how we jump into moving trains. Another big star from me.

Landed in Cochin and I was happy to let Kingfisher know that my flights went well and they DMed back wishing me a great time in India. (Almost sounds like a love affair, hmmm?)

So I spent the next couple of days train hopping across India (I think I spent 7 out of my 9 days sleeping on overnight trains). A week later, I was ready to make the hop back to Dubai. I was flying from Chennai and on my local train ride to the airport, I was wondering if I would have any similar surprises in store.

I was met by this very helpful Kingfisher ground staff who helped me with my bags. And I did make a note of how Kingfisher staff are generally polite, professional and courteous. You begin to feel that these people, whether they are at the low end or the high end of the line, are carefully cherry-picked to live a certain brand vision that leads to delighting customers.

Proceeded to check-in and gladly got my fav seat on an A321 which gives you humongous amounts of legroom. There were no surprises waiting for me at the check-in desk. Must say, I was slightly disappointed after all the pampering a week ago. I traipsed across the terminal towards a Maggi noodle stall and went on to ravenously chomp down a noodle bowl.

As I gulp through my noodles, I spot 2 Kingfisher staff make a beeline for me and I’m like – Uh Oh! Crew: Mr. Rajagopal, we were looking for you… So again, Kingfisher decided to make my day. Minutes later, I was escorted into a lounge at Chennai Airport (at this point was beginning to feel like royalty) and the staff promised to fetch me before boarding. Spent a good 30 minutes in the lounge and then she was back.  Trust me, nothing beats the experience of being chaperoned by a Kingfisher crew on the ground. I did manage to count a few envious looks and did I say I didn’t have to stand in a line for my security check? The lovely crew member hopped with me on the bus and literally dropped me at the door of the plane. My mind was flying at 35k feet by then.

The flight to Bengaluru went without incident. Must say, I liked my seat on the ATR in front of the plane which is the only row facing the rest of the seats. They are comfortable and you get a feeling of flying in a biz jet. Landed at Bengaluru and was at met at the door of the plane by another Kingfisher staffer. I know that at this point this is all sounding like a giant ego-fueled fairy tale. But then this gorgeous staffer walks me from the plane, takes me through immigration and security, mind you, no standing in queues again, you are introduced everywhere as a ‘guest’ and then proceeds to comfortably ensconce me in a premium lounge at the International Terminal.

I tuck into some fine Sauvignon Blanc, Paneer rolls and rum cake as I wait for my ‘Bus to Dubai. My ‘handler’ appeared again before boarding and walked me on the airbridge till my jet, bidding bye and safe travels.

Wheels up to Dubai, great food, much better than on the inbound leg, caught some shuteye and a perfect landing – didn’t even know if we touched ground, just floated in and came to a stop at the airbridge. As we deplaned, the Captain came out to say hello. A great ending to an awesome Kingfisher tale.

So what’s the summary of this whole experience? Just a fluffy piece singing a lot of praise in favor of Kingfisher for making the day of a planegeek? Well, they earned it and yes, a big thank you to them for giving me one of the best flights in my life.

Will Kingfisher roll out the same red carpet treatment to everyone who tweets to them about their journeys? Perhaps not. But have they won a loyal customer and strong brand evangelist in me. Definitely, yes.

To sign off, brands engaging in social media take off to a new level when they are able to consistently and creatively offer value, engagement and delightful surprises to their audience.  It all starts from caring to listen and daring to surprise. Amen!

The top 10 aviation photos of 2010, starring snow December 21, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation.
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3 comments

There’s something magical about snow and winter that gives a unique character to airplanes and aviation. The white bleary landscapes make us have a closer look at these elegant flying machines and remind us of their resilience when it comes to dealing with the rough elements of nature. We also think of the invisible people who work round the clock to keep them flying. So without much ado, here’s my favorite pick of aviation snaps of airplanes from around the world posing in front of snow, all clicked in December 2010.

1.    easyJet A319 flying in front of a snow-laden cliff in Innsbruck, Austria.

Pic Credit: Emanuel Linert

2.    A Southern Air Boing 747-400 Freighter takes off from Amsterdam, Schiphol, Netherlands leaving a plume of snow behind.

Pic Credit: Maarten-sr

3.    An Air Mauritius Airbus A340-300 lands at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Pic Credit: Pascal Maillot

4.    A Lufthansa Airbus A321-231 gets deiced at Munich Franz Josef Strauss International Airport.

Pic credit: Manuel Recht

5.    A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841 at Zurich Kloten Airport proves to the world that it is the world’s largest snowblower.

Pic Credit: Sandro Mederle

6.    A majestic China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-409F wishes Merry Christmas to everyone at Prague Ruzyne Airport.

Pic Credit: Peter Volek

7.    An Egypt Air Cargo Airbus A300B4 is reverse snow plowing at Bruges Ostend Airport in Belgium.

Pic Credit: Luc Van Belleghem

8.    An Emirates 777-300 skims through some shallow fog before coming into land in Glasgow where it is -8C in the noon.

Pic Credit: Fred Seggie

9.    A LinxAir Embraer Legacy series corporate jet looks a bit flummoxed in the snow at Samedan, Switzerland.

Pic Credit: Danijel Jovanovic

10.    Snow covered cockpit of the famous Jumbo Hostel made out of a Boeing 747-212B at Stockholm, Sweden.

Pic Credit: Stefan Sjogren

The top 10 aviation snow photos of 2010

There’s something magical about snow and winter that gives a unique character to airplanes and aviation. The white bleary landscapes make us have a closer look at these elegant flying machines and remind us of their resilience when it comes to dealing with the rough elements of nature. We also think of the invisible people who work round the clock to keep them flying. So without much ado, here’s my favorite pick of aviation snaps of airplanes from around the world posing in front of snow, all clicked in December 2010.

1. easyJet A319 flying front of a snow-laden cliff in Innsbruck, Austria.
http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image113534.html

2. A Southern Air Boing 747-400 Freighter takes off from Amsterdam, Schiphol, Netherlands leaving a plume of snow behind.
http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image113276.html

3. An Air Mauritius Airbus A340-300 lands at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.
http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image113014.html

4. A Lufthansa Airbus A321-231 gets deiced at Munich Franz Josef Strauss International Airport.
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Lufthansa/Airbus-A321 231/1834403/&sid=d8f7ac4ac83d2042284b40b756a5d226

5. A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841 at Zurich Kloten Airport proves to the world that it is the world’s largest snowblower.
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Singapore-Airlines/Airbus-A380-841/1835075/&sid=5b5df9a8c51015953270c64515e0395d

6. A majestic China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-409F wishes Merry Christmas to everyone at Prague Ruzyne Airport.http://www.airliners.net/photo/China-Airlines-Cargo/Boeing-747-409F SCD/1835056/&sid=13033267262dee4cedabb4bb96dc2c14 

 

7. An Egypt Air Cargo Airbus A300B4 is reverse snow plowing at Bruges Ostend Airport in Belgium. http://www.airliners.net/photo/EgyptAir-Cargo/Airbus-A300B4-622R%28F%29/1834471/&sid=d8f7ac4ac83d2042284b40b756a5d226

8. An Emirates 777-300 skims through some shallow fog before coming into land in Glasgow where it is -8C in the noon.
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Emirates/Boeing-777-31H-ER/1834180/&sid=d8f7ac4ac83d2042284b40b756a5d226

9. A LinxAir Embraer Legacy series corporate jet looks a bit flummoxed in the snow at Samedan, Switzerland.
http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image113145.html

10. Snow covered cockpit of the famous Jumbo Hostel made out of a Boeing 747-212B at Stockholm, Sweden.
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Jumbo-Hostel/Boeing-747-212B/1825224/&sid=9e903ff388bcb14c6098c9641504f816

Snow has disrupted air travel across Europe since the last couple of days with thousands of flight cancelations throwing holiday plans of thousands of travelers into disarray.

Particularly hard hit was London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport. One third of flights were canceled in Paris and Frankfurt. The UK, France and Germany were among the worst-hit areas, with forecasters warning of freezing weather all week. More snow is expected in UK in the days to come as the airlines and airports struggle to cope with the adverse weather, flight cancellations, delays and backlog of passengers stranded at airports.

As of 20 Dec,

UK: British Airways cancels all short-haul departures. Heathrow, Gatwick, Cardiff, Edinburgh and other airports suffering disruption or knock-on effects

France: Authorities ask airlines to cut 30% of flights from Paris’s two main airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly to ease congestion.

Germany: Some 300 of 1,340 flights cancelled at Frankfurt because of problems elsewhere in Europe, airport operator Fraport says.

Netherlands: The schedule at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam is suffering cancellations and delays.

Transport officials are struggling to cope with the current weather, compounded by the backlog caused by severe weather over the weekend.

 

25 fast facts on the 25th anniversary of Emirates October 25, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, UAE.
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4 comments

Emirates, the national airline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates celebrates its 25th anniversary today. With a capital of $10 million (AED 36.7 million) and 2 used Boeing 727-200 aircraft in 1985, Emirates has come a long way to be one of the world’s leading airlines.

Here are 25 fast facts on Emirates.

  1. Emirates operates over 2,400 passenger flights per week from Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 105 cities in 62 countries across 6 continents.
  2. Emirates is one of the only nine airlines in the world to operate an all wide-body aircraft fleet. They don’t do small, baby!
  3. Emirates has 151 aircraft in its fleet including 7 freighters and is among the youngest in the skies, with an average age of 69 months.
  4. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s with 86 aircraft in fleet & 55 on order.
  5. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380s with 13 aircraft in fleet & a whopping 77 on order.
  6. Emirates generates 36.5% of its revenue from Europe & Americas & spends 35.1% of its revenue on fuel.
  7. Emirates operates three of the ten world’s longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
  8. Emirates is the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried.
  9. In 2010, Emirates was the sixth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried and largest  in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometres flown.
  10. In 2010, Emirates was voted the eighth best airline in the world by Skytrax.
  11. On 8 June 2010, at the Berlin Air show, Emirates ordered 32 A380s worth $11.5 billion. The deal was the biggest single order for the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
  12. Emirates currently flies A380s to 11 cities around the world and resumes its A380 service to New York JFK on 31 October 2010.
  13. Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 was built exclusively for the use of Emirates at a cost of $4.5 billion and officially opened 14 October 2008. Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world by floor space, with over 1,500,000 sq. m. (370 acres) of space.
  14. Emirates ranks as the largest airline in the world by international seating capacity, according to the latest annual report by IATA.
  15. Emirates plans to have over 320 aircraft by 2018.
  16. In 2009, Emirates was voted the second best First Class by Skytrax.
  17. Emirates became the first airline in the world to introduce a personal entertainment system on a commercial aircraft after introducing the world’s first seat-back screens in 1992.
  18. ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) is the in-flight entertainment system operated by Emirates, and features between 600 and 1000 channels, the largest offering in the world.
  19. Skywards, the frequent flyer programme of Emirates has 5.72 million members.
  20. Emirates has been involved in two of the largest football sponsorship deals ever seen. Its 2004 agreement with Arsenal, which included stadium naming rights, was worth around US $170 million. Its seven year deal with FIFA, signed in 2007, cost a reported US $195 million.
  21. Emirates has only had 3 incidents in its 25 years of history and has never had a casualty. Hope the exemplary record remains.
  22. Emirates employs 10,785 cabin crew from over 120 countries speaking over 80 languages. Their uniforms are designed by Simon Jersey plc.
  23. You can buy an Emirates A380 1:50 Scale Solid Aircraft Model from the official Emirates Online Store for $3300 here.
  24. According to a Wharton article, Maurice Flanagan, the current Executive Vice-Chairman of Emirates so hates the word “marketing” that he essentially banned the use of the term at Emirates. One time when he found that 11 of the firm’s 20,000 employees had the word “marketing” in their job title, he moved them to other positions.
  25. In the year of its 25th anniversary, Emirates announced revenues of US$11.8 billion and net profit up a massive 416% to $964 million.

Brand Leadership Lessons from Air New Zealand January 26, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Branding, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , ,
5 comments

At the edge of the world, a small airline is pushing the envelope when it comes to doing the right things. This is a hallmark of a brand that is going places, even in times of adversity. For example: Air New Zealand.

And here’s how they are getting there.

Pic credit: Flickr – source

1. Be bold in your marketing
Air New Zealand is not shy of stirring a little turbulence in your teacup. Bold, edgy and provocative – that’s how I would describe their recent marketing.

Their ‘Nothing to Hide’ campaign was an excellent take on low cost airlines adding hidden fares. Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe even made a cameo appearance in full body-paint as a baggage handler in this campaign. It was extended to airline safety where crewmembers went bare naked in in-flight safety videos.

However, Air New Zealand recently flew into a bit bad weather with their controversial ‘Cougar’ campaign. But there’s really no thing such as bad PR.

In October 2009, Air New Zealand flew probably the first matchmaking flight in the world from Auckland to Los Angeles, complete with its own social media networking site, pre-flight airport party, loads of in-flight merrymaking and a ticket to a gala post-flight mixer attended by 150 single Kiwis.

All these activities fit Air New Zealand’s vision of “putting the fun back in flying”.

Lesson: Let your marketing be bold, unconventional and spoken about.

2. Your product matters

No marketing or promotion can save you if you don’t have a good product or improve your existing product offering.

Today, Air New Zealand is in the news for their newly launched ‘SkyCouch’ flatbed seat in Economy Class.

While it’s too early to predict its success, Air New Zealand can be hailed for bringing innovation to the back of the cabin.

Like an enthusiast commented: “The SkyCouch is up there with EK’s A380 showers and SIA’s double beds. Gotta love the Kiwis!”

Lesson: Never stop working on improving your product/service.

3. Be different to be better

If you are doing something different from the pack, recognition follows you.

The airline industry usually witnesses a “McDonald’s” approach of doing things. If someone is launching a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), everyone else does the same thing. If you start charging for check-in baggage, everyone else follows suit.

Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch is a daring innovation in terms of product, price and positioning. But this is just one of the many innovations they have been up to in the recent times.

No wonder, the Air Transport World magazine  recently named Air New Zealand Airline of the Year.

Lesson: What are you doing differently to be better?

4. Leadership begins from the top

Positive change begins from the top and flows down the ladder. Under the leadership of Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand seems to have galvanized itself and embraced ‘an authentic Kiwi can-do style’ of getting things done.

“We operate this airline in a New Zealand way – we’re not trying to emulate a Singapore Airlines or emulate a McDonald’s. We’re trying to go out there day in and day out and trying to be authentic Kiwis and give people a real genuine New Zealand experience,” says Fyfe.

Lesson: Are you the Fyfe of your organization?

5. Innovation Quotient

Air New Zealand recently made the world’s first flight using a sustainable biofuel. It also attempted sending a rocket into space. These are innovations at work.

One of the greatest assets in any organization is its people, their knowledge and attitudes. Harness them well and you have a strong culture of innovation.

Air New Zealand has an interesting programme called Test Flight where employees pitch ideas to the executive team. If the idea is chosen, the person suggesting the idea can get to work on the project itself and get a share of the profits.

Air New Zealand also looks outside its own industry for ideas. “We don’t just look at other airlines, at airports. We look at shopping centres, we look at universities, we look pretty much anywhere to get ideas that we could potentially use at Air New Zealand,” says Julia Raue, Chief Information Officer at Air New Zealand.

Lesson: What’s your organization’s innovation quotient?

6. People make the difference

As a company, Air New Zealand is known to create a work environment that values and recognizes people for their enthusiasm and ingenuity.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the airline gave its 11,000 staff an extra day off to celebrate their part in winning the Airline of the Year award.

Lesson: How well are your people contributing to your growth? Are there ways to energize them better?

What else can you learn from Air New Zealand? Feel free to add your views and comments.