Airlines move beyond orthodox marketing techniques

Airlines must facilitate meaningful customer care and rapid response, thereby influencing a positive public perception to maintain brand loyalty on social media.

Airlines have a lot to look into: steading fares, competing for the best on-board facilitates, food quality, customer care, and getting you and about 200 other people up in the air and safely back down to the next airport. With so many things to juggle, one thing airlines can be sure of are a massive number of complaints and unhappy passengers.

Average travellers aren’t looking to be loyal 

Unless your company has a tie up with an airline group or you are a happy mile collector, it’s hard to find people who actively choose an airline based on the brand. Given how pocket pinching flights are, customers are more likely to book tickets on specials, or whatever the cheapest flight is, if they are booking on short notice.

In 2014 KLM scored major points for their 2014 #happytohelp campaign where a dedicated team scanned social media sites and provided exceptional customer service in real time on twitter and Facebook. If customers were angry or confused about any issue before, during, or after their travel, KLM’s team would respond to their comment or question and give them solid pointers on what they could do or offer them an apology if they had a less-than-lovely experience.

Cheap tickets, free flights, are great for a temporary buzz

Getting some brand time by getting customers to access super cheap tickets for a  limited time or holding competitions to win free trips can get airlines to receive some heavy engagement traffic on the internet. For example, a friend winning free airline tickets to Bali, or being the lucky 20 to score air tickets for peanuts, thanks to a last minute Facebook “Like” offer,  are a few ways social media and jet setting are coming together. KLM wins this round too, because they took engagement seriously.

The gravy was in the specifics and expansiveness of the #happytohelp campaign; the social media team did much more then address complaints. Some select passengers got personalized Spanish classes for their holiday in Spain, tailored weather reports from a confused passenger traveling to Ibiza, and even a wake up call with a hot breakfast at the airport before an early morning flight. Using passenger details so specifically and the timely execution using social media have ensured that KLM will stick in the minds of their clients.

Twitterization and gamifying 

Closer home, Jet Airways launched the #JetInstant twitter handle that informs customers about slashed airline rates and flight status.

A flyer sent

Air France did something particularly clever in Singapore and Japan airports last year by handing out tablets for passengers to play a 15 minute game that involved slashing clouds. Real time scores were displayed, and the prize was an instant upgrade to business class on their flight. And one upgraded customer will be sure to snap a picture of their new bussiness class ticket, upload it on to Facebook and tag the airline. Pretty sweet and organic.

Airlines will boost loyalty if they can deal with crisis in an effective, timely, and transparent manner with the help of social media. Social media is a powerful tool that some airlines are being throughly clever about.


Rheea Mukherjee has a dark twisted soul, but on the outside she is pretty chirpy. She co-runs Write Leela Write, a content and design laboratory in Bangalore. Her fiction has been published in in Ultra Violet, Southern Humanities Review, CHA : An Asian Literary Magazine, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, The Bombay Literary Magazine, A Gathering of Tribes, Everyday Fiction, Bengal Lights and Out Of Print Magazine. She bakes in her free time.