KLM’s new podcast shares life-changing travel experiences

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of our Monthly Airline Marketing Benchmark Report

Say the word “podcast,” and it sounds almost retro. As a genre, it’s been around since 2004, making it reasonably old in Internet terms. However, despite its age, podcasting is alive and well – and there’s some evidence to show that it can deliver significant benefits to brands.

According to a Wired article from earlier this year, “podcast listeners really are the holy grail advertisers hoped they’d be”: “Forget those worries that the podcast bubble would burst the minute anyone actually got a closer look: It seems like podcast listeners really are the hyper-engaged, super-supportive audiences that everyone hoped.” 

As a medium, podcasting feels intimate where it seems that the presenter (or presenters) are talking directly to you. As a result, while most people stop watching online videos after two minutes, 90% of podcast listeners make it to the end, with few skipping the ads. And as well as engagement, podcasting delivers the numbers too. In 2016, 112 million Americans listened to a podcast, while RAJAR research in the UK indicated that 24% of adults ages 15 and older surveyed in Q1 2017 had listened to a podcast at least once. 

Despite these numbers, few airlines have embraced podcasts as a medium. One is Virgin Atlantic, which last year started a podcast called “The Venture” that is about entrepreneurship. Now KLM is trying its hand at podcasting, with the launch of “The Journey.”

In the trailer, KLM claims the “The Journey is the first podcast in the world that explores the transformative power of travel.”

The different episodes each explore a different travel story. For example, in Episode One (‘Living with Bears’): “Linda Nijlunsing of the Netherlands has never taken the easy route. She had been travelling the world for years until she met Big Jim in Alaska. They fall in love, and she decides to move in with him, far away from civilisation. They quickly learn that they have different ideas about the relationship. “ 

Other episodes similarly have the narrative of someone leaving their existing life behind and travelling. 

Episode Three (“The Total Collapse”) features former President Clinton staffer Dina Kaplan who went to work for a start-up and then suffered from anxiety which made her evaluate her life, while in Episode Four (“The Muse from Buenos Aires”), an executive from a multinational sees a woman on a street in Buenos Aires who then becomes his imaginary muse and encourages him to take a different direction. 

As travel tech publication Tnooz notes, ‘The Journey’ actually contains next to no information about KLM as an airline: “The podcasts are unusual for an airline marketing department. They mention flying only in passing. They don’t focus on fun holidays or luxurious resorts or any of the enticements that are part of the normal travel industry repertoire.” 

In response, global head of marketing communications Natascha van Roode claimed that KLM doesn’t have the same marketing budget as (e.g.) Etihad or Emirates. As a result, she felt that the airline needed to be more creative and find different and more subtle ways to reach consumers – in this case, the podcasts would be like “listening to a play” as a way of keeping people tuned in and interested.


The statistics about podcasting speak for themselves. As a medium it offers both engagement and a potentially large audience. 

Our feeling is that KLM has got it right both in terms of investing in podcasts, as well as in making its podcasts more like plays (or indeed audiobooks), rather than something which tries to push sales and marketing messages over and over. 

The branding is much more subtle, but the potential reward in having people come back to listen to the different episodes, that much greater.

For more details about how the new podcast helps KLM continue its lead via unconventional airline marketing watch SimpliFlying Live Show episode #267 below.

How KLM's new podcast, The Journey, helps the airline continue its lead via unconventional airline marketing

How KLM's new podcast, The Journey, helps the airline continue its lead via unconventional airline marketing #SimpliLiveShow notes:The Journey – A podcast by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: https://podcast.klm.com/en/

Posted by SimpliFlying on Thursday, April 12, 2018


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