Airline websites can read more like a sales pitch than engaging copy at times. You just have to have a look at some websites to see brochure-speak in full force. However, in these digital times, more devices are activated everyday (more than 1.3 million) than babies born (more than 300,000), so it is essential that airlines keep a constant flow of illuminating content on their web pages, to attract new customers and encourage brand loyalty.
To really stay ahead of the game, airlines need to develop a stronger voice for their brands, adding more personality, and providing quality content with less of a 'business class' tone. People want to connect with real people and stories online. Here are six tips for creating quality content for airlines:
1. Visuals: Everyone loves a holiday snap
Get visual with all content. Use video and pictures across websites, blogs and social media. Video content is 20 times more likely to be shared. People will always spare a few minutes for a fun video. Travel destinations just beg to be filmed and shown-off to busy professionals planning their holidays. Instagram pictures make even the most tolerant of us drool with envy at our desks. Start creating short, snappy video content and get Instagramming. There is so much scope for creativity with this medium too.
Virgin is an airline that does unique video content and can be relied on to be innovative. Here’s their flight experience on a park bench in Manhattan:
As Campaign Asia-Pacific has covered previously, Emirates has focused on producing super-cultural snippets based on common sayings in different languages:
The behind the scenes clips are also funny and show personality.
Next, it can’t be denied: Singapore Airlines famous ‘Singapore Girl’ is an icon as the beautiful, caring air stewardess that models perfect customer service and makes flying easier. Customers need reassurance before flying, and she is that reassurance for anxious travellers:
BA recently created an emotive short film about a son working in New York surprising his Mum with a trip home to Mumbai—to eat his favourite dish. It pulls on all the heart strings focusing on the importance of family and even uses the line 'You only get one family, so come visit Mum'.'
2. Create an online magazine-style blog
Every airline should have one. If not, it's time to invest in one. It needs to be visual, sharp, current and on-trend. People don't have much time to read these days but they will if the articles are short and interesting.
A blog can highlight high-profile or key events and upcoming launches, curate relevant industry news and show-off company talent and campaigns. People are always interested in people—the people behind the brands and their personal stories—it's human nature.
Getting popular writers and bloggers to fly to a destination and blog about it also helps to reach a larger demographic. Richard Branson really gets that people are interested in people and he is always engaging his customers with new content.
As for the online magazine itself, the savvy magazines created by Flockler are beautiful and optimised for mobile. Southwest Airlines ‘Nuts About Southwest’, is a super example of an airline blog and is personalised with daily content from staff.
3. Be a social butterfly
Airlines need to be so customer focused it's a must to be on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Reviews are 80 per cent more trusted than traditional media. Customer concerns should be dealt with professionally and swiftly, and news about big events and new destinations should be broadcast on all social media. It's not just about posting but also engaging and having a conversation with people.
Most of us find travel frustrating at times. If a flight was amazing or the customer service was excellent, we will tell our friends. And word-of-mouth is the most powerful tool. Customer service should be above and beyond helpful. It's the little personal things that people remember and talk about; making them sing your praises.
KLM uses Twitter and Facebook effectively for customer service. Just send a tweet or message and they will get back within the hour and deal with the request within the day. It’s refreshing to see them embrace social media so much and it shows how efficient their customer service is.
4. Consider email campaigns
Secretly—or not-so-secretly in some parts of the world—people love freebies and cheap deals. Freebies are gold in Singapore, where people queue up for an hour for a free scoop of ice cream (and get upset when brands run out of the promised freebies).
So don't forget email marketing, people still want to hear about cheap flights home as an expat, a cheap weekend away with the girls/guys or a wallet-friendly annual family trip. Friday fares are great for PR and get your brand in the spotlight. Scoot handled the recent haze in Singapore well by reducing fares to certain destinations for people to ‘Beat the haze’. With the amount of people flying out that week and seat prices on other airlines being hiked-up to ridiculousness, it was a smart move. They showed their customers they cared.
5. Get an app
Ninety-two per cent of Asians have smartphones or devices, so having an app is a necessity these days. The idea is that we can do everything in an app, while on-the-go and share it. Eventually it might act as a payment card for contactless payment. BA is one of the airlines that demonstrates this brilliantly with its mobile boarding passes, taking the stress out of those harried flight check-in scenarios.
6. Author your own travel guides
Airlines should elevate their brand’s 'voice' by penning a series of guides to flight destinations. There could be online content that people can read on the app, on-the-go.
Rachel Everett is partner and director of marketing for White Horse Digital in Singapore.
These guides could cover essential information such as where to stay, eat and what to see in each place and would lend a more expert tone. Providing exclusive offers or bonus air miles for those that use the guides or app is a good idea, so they are part of a members club and get rewarded for loyalty which is the ultimate aim. If a traveller has a great experience with an airline they will most likely use the same airline over and over again. Seventy per cent of travellers will book with the same airline if there are air-mile incentives.
Cathay Pacific has some excellent travel guides on its app, based on Discovery magazine. It encourages brand loyalty and positions Cathay as an expert; a bit like a jetsetter friend in-the-know.