Top 10 Route Launches: How Airlines and Airports engage customers in new destinations through social media

One of the bigger marketing challenges airlines face is to fill up the seats as quickly as possible, when launching a new destination. Typically, it takes over six months to reach a level where a flight is profitable. And this is after receiving marketing help from tourism agencies and also from airports – press releases to billboards in the terminals.

But as as we have long suspected, the traditional press release is rather dead and buried. Granted, it’s not dead in the truest sense of the word; however, it is undeniable that social technologies have morphed press-releases beyond recognition. Gone are the boring, wordy releases that used to accompany every major announcement in the industry. Welcome to the new age of social engagement!

Social media for route launches

Airlines these days have begun smartly leveraging the power of social media while making new product and route announcements. Forget the one-page release announcing the nature and benefits of the new route. These days, there are dedicated campaigns being run by airlines (as well as airports) to draw attention to their new routes and planes.

Witness the wide-ranging strategies adopted – as illustrated in this new case-pack – there are examples of special discounts to Twitter followers, elaborate “guess the route” contests on Facebook, contests that challenge the artistic abilities of fans and followers, even “name the plane” contests. All these attractive engagement campaigns are managed wholly online. Some airlines have gone as far as spending nothing on traditional advertising for new route launches. The benefits of social engagement campaigns are for all to see:

  1. Immediate access to a very specific group of target audience that is responsive to incentives.
  2. Online engagement offers the benefit of two-way conversations that enable easy sentiment-tracking and real-time feedback analysis, rather than one-way broadcasts.
  3. The ability to attract and engage the audience where they are most likely to be at (eg. Facebook) makes it more easy to make them willing listeners and customers.
  4. The ability for engagement programs to become money-spinners (ie, revenue drivers) is plain to see because of the viral nature that such campaigns can don. Your fans will talk to their friends who will talk to their friends and so on.
  5. The ability to fill up the seats sooner for a new route – through all of the above.

With these points in mind, we present to you our new case-pack on the Top 10 Route Launches by Airlines & Airports via social media. Special thanks to Mark Scourse from 3Sixty for his inputs on how airports do it. You can hear both Shashank and Mark speak at the World Routes Forum in Berlin in Oct, 2011.

Let us know what you think of the case-pack. Thought we missed someone? Thought we nailed it? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @simpliflying.


Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Vice President, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal is the Vice President, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying. He has been leading Research, Product Development, Marketing and Business Development since December 2010 from the headquarters in Singapore. He has spoken at airline conferences and delivered training workshops for senior aviation executives. He has also appeared on television interviews and been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying and respected industry outlets such as Airlinetrends, Tnooz, Airport World, Low Cost and Regional Airline Business Magazine and Loyalty360. In a previous role, he also conducted a workshop on social media at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. He speaks three languages fluently, and is also a published poet and amateur film critic. He can be reached at shubhodeep@simpliflying.com.
Shubhodeep Pal
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Showing 11 comments
  • Oussama
    Reply

    Great report. One of the fastest growing route launches was Air Arabia’s Sharjah/Mumbai. The first 2 flights had a 60% LF with all other flights at more than 90% LF and this went on for years. A case of a much awaited route by a large expat community. 

  • Oussama
    Reply

    Great report. One of the fastest growing route launches was Air Arabia’s Sharjah/Mumbai. The first 2 flights had a 60% LF with all other flights at more than 90% LF and this went on for years. A case of a much awaited route by a large expat community. 

  • Freearticles Co In
    Reply

    Very good and useful travel blogs.

  • Joel Marcelo
    Reply

     As always, awesome article! I am a fan of your work. You take me places.

  • Tanguy F
    Reply

    Curious top 10. Not even a word on the launch of AMS-Miami by KLM, that would have deserved the golden medal, or on the launch of CDG-Orlando by Air France, that should have been in the top 3 also.

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