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Written By Chris Giddins
4 minute read

You know that your customers have a choice in airlines. But rather than just thanking them for it when the plane touches down, airlines need to go above and beyond to promote themselves. The travel industry as a whole has grown ever more competitive in recent years. And many travellers know exactly how to use the digital realm to their advantage to get the bargains they crave. Airlines can either submit their profits to the whims of fate, or start thinking outside of the box to engage bargain-hungry holidaymakers.

In many respects, airlines are just like any other business. They need to generate as much value for the customer as possible, or risk losing ground to their ever-present competition. Passenger loyalty is often hard won for airlines. 

But with the right promotional ideas they can increase their value proposition and stand out among the crowd in the eyes of fickle passengers.

#1 - Reward frequent fliers with a loyalty scheme that goes above and beyond

Every passenger wants to fly with an airline that gives them more for their money. Especially if they travel often. Most airlines offer the usual fare like air miles with a few branded goodies thrown in here and there. You can do better than that, can’t you? 

Your brand, and your customers, deserve a loyalty scheme that goes above and beyond, so passengers know that they made the right choice when the plane leaves the ground. A great loyalty scheme is one that provides offerings for passengers outside of the airline’s own brand. By partnering with rental car companies, hotels and even restaurants and bars, you can ensure that your loyalty scheme adds value for the customer at each and every stage of their journey, long after they’ve disembarked.

#2 - Use unique promo codes that give passengers the right deal at the right time

Everyone loves feeling like they’re getting a great deal. But when customers feel like they’re getting a special deal that’s unique to them, that is the essence of value added. Especially when that deal comes at the perfect time. It’s no secret that the travel industry as a whole has a problem with customers who don’t take action. It’s understandable, of course. Booking flights, hotel stays and car rental requires commitment. And that’s not something today’s consumer makes lightly. It’s why the travel industry has an astonishingly high shopping cart abandonment rate of around 80%. Today’s travellers expect to be able to compare numerous deals and take their time deciding which is best for them. 

Unique, single-use promo codes can show them that the best deal for them is the one that’s on the screen right now. When and how you use them is up to you, but investing in the software that creates promo codes can also give you some exciting options.

You can send prospects a unique offer if they navigate away from your site, or if they stay on a certain page for a long period of time. You can send a follow-up email with a promo code attached to return a customer to an abandoned cart (but be wary of over-using this tactic or your abandonment rates will soar). You can even gamify discounts by making them perform specific actions on your website in order to get special discounts. Or you could even have special offers that flash up on your website or social media page that diminish in value the longer they’re left unclaimed. 

There are so many possibilities that will add value to the customer and give them a reason to keep coming back to your online presence. Speaking of which… 

eBook on travel industry booming

#3 - Create content marketing copy that adds real value

There’s a good chance that you’re already creating content marketing copy like blogs, vlogs, infographics and tutorials. Not only is it a great way to give your SEO a natural boost, it also generates more value for the customer and creates positive associations with your brand. 

The more useful and informative your content marketing, the better a promotional tool it is. 

A great example of highly targeted and relevant content marketing is ‘Virgin’s Atlantic’s Things To Do Between Meetings’ blog posts a few years back. These identified the fact that many of their business travellers found themselves with an hour or so to kill in fantastic locations but were unsure of how to make the most of this time. These blog posts identified and catered to that very specific need with great success.

#4 - Embrace influencer marketing

Regardless of how you personally feel about travel bloggers, vloggers, Insta-celebrities and other social influencers, your passengers trust them. Especially younger passengers. In fact, 40% of millennials feel that their favourite YouTube celebrities understand their needs better than their own friends. Moreover, almost half of all consumers depend on influencers to help them decide what to buy.

Getting influencers excited about your airline can help to generate interest among their following. Likewise, giving different travel influencers their own promo codes to distribute among their followings can help create even more value in the eyes of a whole new audience. And because the software used to create promo codes contains its own analytics suite, you can see which influencers are making the most money for you by generating more referrals.

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#5 - Use brand storytelling to lend your airline extra wow factor

Who doesn’t love a good story? Using the conventions of narrative in your marketing can be a great promotional tool that lends your brand a little extra wow factor. A great example of this is Taiwanese airline EVA’s Hello Kitty campaign in 2018. The beloved cartoon feline effectively took over certain key flights in the airline’s schedule with planes decorated with Hello Kitty characters, attendants dressed in Hello Kitty regalia and Hello Kitty branded products used throughout the flight.

Naturally, this generated enormous interest and goodwill throughout the world, but especially in Asia where much of the cartoon cat’s fandom resides.

#6 - Surprise, delight and engage customers to spread great word of mouth

Finally, perhaps the most effective promotional strategy is consistently delivering operational excellence. At the very least, if you don’t constantly strive to be at your best, you can use all of the above tactics and fail to gain traction with your audience.

Even in this digitally-led era, word of mouth from trusted sources still carries a lot of weight. And when you’re able to surprise, delight and engage customers by delivering outstanding service and going above and beyond for them, you’re sure to get people talking about you. 

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