Doing something new? Beat the drum about it!

Here’s a quiz:

1. Which airline tested wi-fi for the first time last week?
2. Which airline will be testing bio-fuels next month?
3. Which airline is the first to have showers in its first class?
4. Which is the first airline that’s going to fly the Boeing 787?
5. Which airline was the first to fly the A380 aircraft?

Almost anyone who’s traveled on an airplane before would be able to answer the last one – Singapore Airlines. But hardly any would be able to answer the other questions. For the curious, American Airlines tested wireless internet last week, Japan Airlines will test bio-fuels, Emirates will have showers on its new A380 flight to New York city and ANA will be the first to fly the 787. Wondering why the huge disparity in awareness? Simply because Singapore Airlines engaged its customers and let the world know that it was doing something new.

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Being the first brand to give customers a refreshing, new experience is something to beat the drum about. In turbulent times for the industry like these, airlines should take the opportunity to let the world know about every new initiative they are taking. Let alone the need for a Singapore Airlines’ style big bang, something more than a simple press-release is likely to be lapped up by thirsty customers. What if American Airlines had created a contest, where winners would be able to use the wi-fi service free? How about Japan Airlines doing a marketing stint with Al Gore, highlighting the importance of using bio-fuels? May be Emirates can give its top frequent fliers a chance to experience those showers, even before the first flight.

Not only will such activities create loyal customers, but the buzz created will be more than enough to offset some of the flak airlines have been receiving lately due to the additional charges being imposed. Being the first to provide additional value to customers is not very common in the airline industry, and when it happens, airlines should capitalize on such an opportunity.

Did you know that a number of United Airlines’ planes have added iPhone and iPod support? Again, the answer is probably a resounding “No”.

Time to wake up! And beat the drum about it.

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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