Archive for Customer Engagement

ROI of Social? How about $25m Annually…

KLM owes a huge thank you to Eyjafjallajökull. Oh, you don’t remember our Icelandic friend? The volcano that erupted in 2010 which left thousands of passengers stranded in the wake of cancellations? Perhaps it’s little known history by now, but Eyjafjallajökull marked the beginning of what’s now a $25 million-a-year profit center for KLM. With phone channels busy, […]

Creative Marketing: Candy as Payment?

How’s this for creative marketing? Train travelers using the Sanriku Railway network in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture can now use KitKats as train passes. The concept is part of a scheme by Nestlé to rejuvenate tourism in the northern province, following the devastating effects of the 2011 T?hoku Earthquake. Customers can buy special packs of KitKat for less […]

Service Design Case Study: Washington Dulles International Airport

As someone who grew up watching planes from the Air France Concorde to a United States Space Shuttle land at Washington’s Dulles International Airport, I want to love the place. I really do. The airport symbolizes my ultimate comfort zone—my hometown, my childhood and the countless memories associated with it. However, even I am finding […]

British Airways Should Ignore Privacy Group Concerns

  It has gained attention in recent weeks that British Airways has taken to Google-stalking its V.I.P customers, equipping thousands of staff with iPads so they can search for information about the passenger prior to their flight and greet them accordingly. Of course, it has caught the attention of privacy groups as well, creating headlines […]

jetBlue Trying to Get Away With It by Launching a Gameshow!

It may look a little Smurfy at first glance, but jetBlue is set to make history by becoming the first airline-cum-gameshow operator. From June 18th through 22nd, the airline will be streaming a travel trivia game live online from a New York studio. Hosted by the slick, smooth-talking Mark Hammerberg–a character seemingly straight out of […]

Air Asia Rebranding to the Tune of $5 Million USD

AirAsia is setting aside approximately USD$5 million for corporate rebranding. According to Group Head of Commercial Kathleen Tan, the exercise will include a new look and feel to its main office, check-in counters (starting with Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur), advertisements and aircraft, as well as a revamped flight attendant uniform. I’ve always been leery […]

Points for Thoughts: Virgin America’s Quest to Know its Customers

Despite the longtime popular awareness in marketing circles that communication is a two-way street, I’m still amazed at how many airline marketing strategies revolve exclusively around push messages. Most of the communication that reaches me is one-way: “we (the airline) are offering you X/flying to Y/or introducing Z.” But quite honestly, nine times out of ten, […]

Plugged in with Aerolineas Argentinas: Creating Social Expectations

I flew with Aerolineas Argentinas for the first time recently, and was pleased to see the efforts they are making to engage customers socially.  Now let’s hope that the execution matches the expectation. I’ve said many times, companies do not need to be omnipresent in social media. But if they are going to enter into […]

Humanization is the Name of the Game for Tweeting Customer Service

Much to the chagrin of many European travelers, there is only one Lidia Stefanowska. But thanks to Twitter, easyJet’s Customer Experience Manager is seen regularly in all 118 easyJet destinations. As the leader of @easyJetCare, Lidia’s team handles customer questions and problems in real-time, and has earned high praise due to its ability to humanize […]

Alaska Airlines Debuts New Terminal 6 at LAX

Alaska Airlines debuted its “Terminal of the Future” this week in Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 6 (read more about it from our friends at Future Travel Experience here). I have been critical in this space before about airlines introducing new technology without thinking the entire process through, often due to a lack of trust […]

EY + MCFC: Leveraging Sponsorship Investment to Offer Customer Experiences

Travel is an experience, not a tangible possession. For this reason, it always amazes me that airlines don’t make a more concerted effort to leverage their unique route structures, hub or focus cities, sponsorships, or anything else that gives them a competitive edge in a particular market or amongst a creatively-defined customer segment to package […]

Special Airline Business Report: Social Media as More than a Tool for Marketing

The following article was written by Alex Thomas and published in Airline Business magazine on 20 February, 2012. A link to the original article is available here.  Enjoy! Given the rapidly evolving channels through which airlines can connect with their customers, developing a consistent strategy to maximise this opportunity can be problematic Cebu Pacific’s flight […]

Engagement 101: AirAsia Continues to Innovate with “100th Dragon” Contest

By now, we should all be used to seeing innovative marketing campaigns from AirAsia. While the airline continues to adapt its route structure to the changing aviation landscape in the Far East, one thing that has remained consistent is its dedication to innovative, engaging approaches to brand communication. And that doesn’t just mean outbound. Instead, […]

Video Posted: Airline Business NCM London

It took a few days, but we’ve finally managed to upload the video of Steven Klimek’s presentation from Airline Business’ New Commercial Models, Retailing and Merchandising conference in London (delay courtesy of poor hotel wifi connections). The presentation below is entitled “Social Distribution 2.0(12)” (get it?), and the screen presentation can be found in its […]

Social Distribution 2.0(12): My Presentation at Airline Business NCM London

It’s a sunny Winter morning here in London, and I’m about to participate on a panel discussion with Ursula Silling, Founder & CEO of XXL Solutions; Rauno Parras, Chief Commercial Officer of Estonian Air; and Tom Bacon, Principal of Tom Bacon Consulting. Please view my individual presentation below, which highlights how social media is impacting […]

iPhone Apps for Airports that do not even Offer Free Wifi?

This post will simply open up debate for further discussion… When I landed in Zurich yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see a bright, shiny, glowing billboard advertising ZRH Airport’s free iPhone app (see below). I’m not sure what kind of money ZRH spent on this…but presumably it’s for passenger convenience.  However, it seems to […]

How to Follow-up With Your Customers Without Being Annoying…

Short post today, but I wanted to share something that came through my inbox from Zazzle, the custom-order t-shirt/souvenir (or anything really) online company that I recently purchased a few items from. As social media has proven, there is a certain art to engaging with our customer, which requires the perfect delicate balance of persistance, […]

Who Killed Rico? Air New Zealand’s Clever Move to Phase Out the Loveable Lunatic…

Who killed Rico? That’s the million-dollar, or free round-trip, question. Air New Zealand’s fuzzy little mascot that crept his way into our hearts over the past year, and took a starring role in several of my presentations, was recently “murdered” at a party in his posh new Hollywood home. In a move partially designed to […]

Using Social Media to Charter a Plane? Virgin America says OK!

I like clothes. And I like social media. So it’s no wonder that I’ve been a member of Gilt Groupe, which offers “luxury” goods online at lower margins, with the aim to make up the discount with volume sold. I was quite shocked to open my latest set of offers, however, and see one from […]

United Scores Big with Travel App

I have always had more admiration for he or she who makes a mistake, admits it, and corrects it than I have for the person who denies the mistake occurred. While I’ve been critical in this space before of United’s approach to social and mobile, I fully commend them for scoring big with their new travel […]

Airbus Air Transport Seminar China: Presentation in Granada, Spain; 20 October 2011

I’ve posted my presentation from Airbus’ Air Transport Seminar for Chinese carriers, which took place today at the M.A. Nazaries Hotel in Granada, Spain. This is a general overview of the state of social media in the airline industry, focusing on how social media has changed the traveler lifecycle and how airlines can better engage […]

We’re Making History!

Hi folks…can’t write much on this one, as I just completed the longest travel day of my life. In the process of getting from Singapore, where I began the “day”, to Granada, Spain….I managed to touch the ground in Seoul, San Francisco and Frankfurt.  Fortunately, since I can survive off of jet fuel, I’m here […]

IATA World Passenger Symposium 2011: Singapore

I will be participating in a panel discussion entitled “Let the Customer Find You: Delivering the Right Distribution Mix” at the IATA World Passenger Symposium in Singapore this week. IATA has been a vital player in “simplifying the business” of airlines, and hopefully this panel will provide insights into the evolution of distribution and, my […]

Icelandair Denver Photo Contest: Engaging and Effective Route Launch

I have been a part of route launches before, and I would say that for the most part, the only way the inaugural flight of a new route ever goes out full is if the tickets have been heavily discounted with promo fares. The ticket giveaway promotion is something I’ve been a proponent of for […]

A Question About Ancillary Revenues…

Just a question that’s on my mind after hearing the discussion at IATA’s World Passenger Symposium today in Singapore. With their ancillary revenue strategies, are airlines around the world winning the small battles only to prepare to lose the war?  I’ll follow up more on this later….

Improving the Passenger Experience 101: Efficient Use of Overhead Bins!

I’ve noticed quite a trend lately among US carriers.  In the great race for efficiency and on-time departures, they have started to–by default–claim that all overhead bin space is full about halfway through boarding, requiring all of the rest of the passengers to check their bags at the gate. Strangely enough, about half the time […]

Airbus Air Transport Seminar Latin America: Presentation in Miami, 04 October 2011

I’ve posted my presentation from Airbus’ Air Transport Seminar for Latin American carriers, which took place today at the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel in Coconut Grove, Florida, USA. This is a general overview of the state of social media in the airline industry, focusing on how social media has changed the traveler lifecycle and how airlines […]

Cathay Pacific’s “Blending Borders” Campaign: Engaging Customers from Hong Kong to Chicago…

Cathay Pacific has proven to be one of the better airlines over the past few years at engaging customers through online contests. While most airlines scoff at the notion of giving anything away for—gasp!!—free (!!!), Cathay hasn’t been afraid to do this. And of course given the collective time and effort made by contest participants, […]

New Whitepaper Out Today! (Hint: Download it Here!)

How many times have you read  a whitepaper that introduced new vocabulary to the English language? Specific to the aviation industry? My latest one (done in conjunction with SimpliFlying) does exactly that, introducing a concept called “Airrogance“, which is essentially arrogance applied to the airline industry when airlines fail to engage their customers in a two-way […]

Feeling Like a Proud Dad…

As I checked in on Foursquare at Washington Dulles Airport this morning on my way to Chicago, I couldn’t help but notice the following display at one of the idle United gates: In light of the article I wrote in this space and on SimpliFlying a few months ago, I must say I was quite […]

How Mango Airlines has Succeeded in Customer Engagement (CEO Interview)

Everyone reading this blog, I’m safely assuming, books most of your airline tickets online. Without question, it is the easiest and most cost-effective way (for all parties involved) to make a booking. So it makes sense that a startup airline would focus its distribution strategy around direct online sales. However, imagine if you were tasked […]

Presentation from Aviation Outlook Africa summit in Johannesburg; 13 July 2011

I delivered a keynote presentation today at the Aviation Outlook Africa conference at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa today. My presentation, “Two Paradigm Shifts in Travel and Three Ways to Drive Customer Engagement,” looks into how social media is changing the travel industry and what airlines and airports can do to leverage social […]

Experiential Search, Speed and Mobile Integration Highlight Key Themes from Amadeus Airline e-Commerce Conference

With his large responsibility as VP of Product Development for Sales and e-Commerce Platforms for Amadeus, Denis Lacroix doesn’t often know when he’ll get to go on holiday. What he does know, however, is that he wants to see Lady Gaga. And thanks to that, passengers around the world are now able to search for […]

Interviews Posted

Hi guys. I don’t have time at the moment to put a separate post for each, but I’ve gotten some great interviews so far at the Amadeus Airline e-Commerce Conference in Cannes, France this week.  You can check them out at, although I will follow up with some posts on them later. Jerome Letissier, Amadeus: […]

Alice Liu (American Airlines) Provides Insight Into the Onboard Product Development Process

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the handover of American Airlines’ newest 737-800 aircraft from Boeing, AA’s first featuring the innovative new Boeing Sky Interior, to depart from Seattle’s Boeing Field today for DFW.  During the ceremony, I was able to get a one-on-one interview with American’s Managing Director of Onboard Products, Alice Liu, […]

Stick to the Point!

If my last post picked on United Airlines for leaving key information out of a message, this post will highlight the opposite extreme–including too much information so as to jumble a message. United has a corporate initiative called “Eco-Skies” designed to promote corporate responsibility to the environment. A noble cause, UA came up with a […]

Navigating AIRticulate

This blog began a few years ago primarily focused on Commercial Strategy, and has shifted with the times (and my interests) into Customer Engagement. As such, I have created eight categories that will capture the theme of each post in this space, defined as follows: CRM: The broad umbrella of Customer Relationship Management as it […]

Customer Engagement Strategy for the Airline Industry