Marketing @ 35,000 feet in the sky!

Marketing @ 35,000 feet in the sky!

Air travel is the most exciting forms of travel. Apart from the excitement of flying, there is a lot of status attached to it. Unlike other modes of...

Air travel is the most exciting forms of travel. Apart from the excitement of flying, there is a lot of status attached to it. Unlike other modes of travel where the passenger can get off and stretch his legs, in air travel the passenger is held captive for the entire duration of the journey. Let us examine how airlines peddle their wares to these captive set of customers.

1) Fashion shows: This concept was first tried by Kingfisher Airlines (India). Travellers were pleasantly surprised to see models perform cat walks wearing the latest ensembles (a number of different items of clothing and accessories, put together to create an outfit) right in front of them. The passengers got a real eyeful and the fashion designers got a chance to get into the minds of affluent Indians.

2) Gourmet meals: The best food is served in the airlines. At the end of the sumptuous meal one can’t but notice the small tasteful card of the gourmet chef or the hotel from where the food was brought in. A subtle but a very powerful plug for the concerned chef or the 5 star hotel.

3) In-Flight magazine: It is a good way to get the attention of the traveler. The fashionable and highly colorful magazines not only serve to entertain the traveler but also allow the airlines to talk about itself and help promote its in-flight shopping and in-flight food and beverage sale.

4) In-Flight entertainment: Long flights can get very boring. In the bygone era there was only a very huge TV screen and all the travelers had to watch the movies or the shows dished out by the cabin crew. But not any longer. In the age of customization and comfort, each traveler has access to a small personalized TV where seven to eight channel programs are free but if one wants to watch the latest flick, he has to pay for it – Pay for view.

5) In-Flight shopping: Most of the airlines have in-flight shopping where travelers can chose from a variety of watches, jewels, bags and others. During overseas journeys, the in-flight shopping can take the scale of a duty free shop where items can be bought duty free.

6) Extra payment for leg space, window or any other preferred seat: Noticing that some travelers may need for extra features, airlines have started charging extra for them. These were extended as courtesies earlier but have become ‘to pay services’ in the recent times. Extra leg room, window seat or aisle or any other preferred seat can be had by shelling a few bucks. In fact, it is better to be silent and opt for an extra if the same is offered at the check in counter.

7) Ava scheme of scratch card: This is a scratch card cum shopping card that is given to all the travelers. They can scratch and find out what their dame luck holds in store for them. They could include watches, a Moserbaer DVD player, a 16 disk games encyclopedia, a classique watch, a jeweler set, a sandwich maker or many such items. Depending on what they get on their scratch card, they can claim the gift by paying handling charges of only 699/- rupees.

They can also buy items like blackberry mobiles, digital cameras, skybags, handbags, gaming consoles and many other at a heavy discount. A variation of the same scheme can be seen where travelers can bid for a product from a fixed base price. The highest bidder gets the product on arrival at the airport.

8) Advertising on the window pane: Not seen on Indian airlines but a popular method of promoting the product. When the window pane is down the advertisement is seen very clearly.

9) Advertising on the food tray: that opens out in front of the passenger: A great place to advertise a company that is in vacation business. Also a great position to promote a company that markets laptops.

10) Advertising the plane itself: The plane itself can become a vehicle for advertising. PepsiCo painted an entire plane in its colors and the plane became one big moving advertisement. Although it is for people outside the plane and not inside it. This advertisement was to promote Gillette Mach 3 razor. Advertising for Bulgarian designer watches in Alitalia Boeing 747-243B. Pepsi advertised its products by putting its logo on the fuselage of a Concorde.

11) Advertising on the head rests: NH hotels advertisements were placed on Iberia airlines headrests. On the back of the headrests, one could see illustrations of people enjoying the different activities offered by NH hotels: golf, beach, sauna, etc.

12) Advertising on the seat belt: This advertisement titled airplane seatbelt was done by Scholzand friends advertising agency slim fast company Allpharm, Germany.

Sky is the limit for promoting products. The air hostesses, the stewards and the staff dress can have logos of companies, while the quilts and the headphones supplied can be a plug for quilts and audio companies.

Too much promotion can be counterproductive: Southwest Airlines has proved the point that interaction between the staff and the travelers is hugely appreciated and remembered. Southwest Airlines sends out most frequent Customers a birthday card. A Customer called southwest to let it know that southwest was the only one who remembered his birthday!

When things get stressful at the airport due to bad weather, Southwest plays gate games with its customers to relieve that stress. The gate agent would announce to the customers sitting in the boarding area that Southwest was giving a $25 off coupon for its next flight if they had a hole in their socks.

During my first journey from Addis Ababa to Bahirdar, I witnessed the great Nile gorge, the Tiss Abay water Fall and the Tana Lake, which is the starting point of the longest river in the world, the Nile. And all this from 10 kilometers up in the sky! I thank the Ethiopian airline pilot for making my journey so wonderful and eventful. I also warmly remember the friendly banter of the Ethiopian airlines pilots who gave us tips on when to look out for great sights.

By:Dr M Anil Ramesh

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