Regional Differences in Airline Social Media Strategy – Outlook Report 2017

Outlook Report 2017 revealed 5 key insights about future and the present of airline social media strategy. In this article, we will look at some additional insights that were provided by the Outlook Survey but could not be included in the report for reasons of space. One such insight is the regional differences among airlines’ social media resourcing, objectives and challenges.

The Insights

The insights have been derived from the responses of 140 airlines executives from 6 regions and 90 airlines across the world. The regions represented are – Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Africa, North America and South America. Based on their responses here are 3 key regional differences we found :

  1. Middle Eastern airlines have the biggest social media teams: 36% of all surveyed airlines in the Middle East reported having a social media team size of 10 or more. They also have the highest satisfaction with their team size. This could be an insight into the future of social media teams especially since over 3/4 of all Middle Eastern social media teams are organised as dedicated teams.
  2. RegionalFocus and priorities – The top focus for airlines varies significantly from region to region. It is most revealing in the four regions discussed below:
    1. North America – The top focus remains customer service. North American carriers still have the lowest average reply times on social media, a testament to their focus. In line with this, their top strategic priority is to link social media to operations. Therefore, any airline looking to focus on customer service or aligning social media with customer service must track North American airlines in the days to come.
    2. South America – The top focus for South American airlines is driving ancillary revenues using social media and their top strategic priority is the training of their social media teams. South American airlines’ movement in ancillary revenues space will be interesting to follow.
    3. Europe – European airlines are attempting a balancing act. They see themselves focusing equally on customer service and branding. This balancing act comes at the cost of a greater requirement for resources causing European carriers to list going for more resources as their top priority.
    4. Middle East – Middle Eastern airlines’ focus is customer service too. However, they are looking to excel in it by investing in better technology in the long term and have named it as their top strategic priority.
  3. KPIs for same goals differ from region to region – The airlines across the world are also divided on how to measure their social media performance when it comes to customer service and revenues. However, for a matured social media goal such as branding, the KPI is quite clear. This points in the direction that in days to come airlines will need to standardise their KPIs. Take for example measuring of revenues from social media. Currently, airlines use KPI such as click through rate and booking conversion rate, all of them agree that in the future all the airlines will shift to advanced multi-attribution models and KPIs. KPI-Regional

The Way Forward

Airlines must take inspiration not just from their peers in the region but even beyond that. Some regions excel at social customer service whilst other regions are trendsetters in the usage of technology for social media. Airlines need to learn from the airlines in those regions to best prepare for the future.

Ravi Chauhan

Ravi Chauhan

Ravi Chauhan is the Lead - Research and Analytics at SimpliFlying. Based out of Delhi, Ravi works on developing special projects and analytical models for SimpliFlying. Working with numbers is his passion, and he revels at any opportunity to derive deep insights from datasets of all shapes, sizes, and forms. He has led the efforts in developing the Honeycomb -- a breakthrough analytical model that helps airlines measure and benchmark social media activities and link them all to organisational objectives, and changes the way we look at social media and data. You can tweet him at @simpliravi and email him at ravi@simpliflying.com
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