How #QantasLuxury turned from a feel-good-contest to #epicfail – social media crises management case study

Yes, we gave an award to Qantas for their work with handling the Chilean volcanic ash crises through social media last month, at SimpliFlying Awards for Social Media Excellence. And when you win an award, you should be expected to do more of  the same things better. But it looks like Qantas is attracting social media crises these days like bees to honey!

After causing lots of unhappiness amongst passengers due to the complete fleet being grounded, and then getting some more flak for lack of pro-active response through social media, a simple Twitter contest backfired completely today for the battered airline brand.

The contest was meant to highlight creative aspects of the luxury offered in the premium cabins at Qantas, but it only took an hour for the #QantasLuxury hashtag to trend as passengers and Australia in general vented their frustrations with tweets. Over 51 tweets were being received per minute on the hashtag, and soon mainstream press covered it too.

While we’ve compiled here a number of key tweets and messages in the crises as it unrolled, we’d like to ponder about some questions too:

  1. What could Qantas have done differently before launching the contest?
  2. How could they have reacted better when the first tweets came out?
  3. Should they have cultivated and engaged some brand ambassadors, if they weren’t able to deal with the responses themselves?
  4. How can other airlines prepare better for such a situation?
  5. What’re the Top 3 lessons learnt from this incident?

We shall crowdsource the answer to these questions and update this post in 24 hours (since the contest runs for another 48hrs)! Meanwhile, have a chuckle or two from the very creative tweets and a hilarious parody video tweeps have put together.



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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