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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.

 

Brand Leadership Lessons from Air New Zealand January 26, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Branding, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
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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.

Horseplay at Kuala Lumpur October 28, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Travel.
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I love this pic from my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur. This is taken at the gates of the Sultan’s Palace, Kuala Lumpur. Bus loads of tourists come here and pose with the sentry on duty at the gates and snap themselves up. The horse sifts around while the soldier mounting him has to sit still, without batting an eyelid.

The usually restless horsey took a liking for me – may be it was the red shirt – so he went on to give me a ‘rub-down’ while I posed for my pic. I kind of freaked out, but tried not to show. I kind of looked through the corners of my eyes to see what he was up to and then later when I got the snap, I saw even the soldier was looking through the corners of his eyes to see what his horse was up to!

Great snap, great memory, pure horseplay!