Fundamentals of Airline Marketing

Airlines have evolved into the most secure and efficient mode of transportation in the modern age. High-tech airplanes have transformed our world into a global village. Deregulation, fuel costs, recession, pandemics, global and regional limitations, and conflicts are among the factors that immediately influence the performance of the aviation sector, and low-cost airlines are also one of these threats. Airline marketing is crucial in bringing in new buyers and maintaining robust and long-lasting relations with existing clients.

History

The early days of airline services were exclusive, and air travel was extremely delicate. Airplanes were equipped with fine dine-in halls, luxury couches, and inflight services were absolutely sensational. Air travel became substantially more affordable following deregulation in 1978. Airlines must strive to give the cheapest prices to customers, and with the emergence of low-cost carriers like SouthWest and Frontier, the battle has actually begun. At around the same time, British carriers started offering extremely low-cost transatlantic flights, causing American carriers to drop their tariffs.

Following deregulation, new airlines flooded the market, and new routes immediately connected destinations that were formerly only attainable via a series of stopovers. Fares fell as rivalry and passenger numbers surged. The sector suffered from the impacts of another global recession in 2001, as corporate travel declined significantly while labor and fuel expenses soared. The events of 9/11 exacerbated the airlines’ problems, resulting in a steep drop in passengers and much greater operational expenses.

Despite all of these difficulties, the airline industry consistently developed great solutions and kept us flying. The airline industry’s brilliant marketers devised clever techniques that rocked the competition and kept jets flying across the world.

Marketing Strategies

The airline business has influenced how we purchase things and the way they are advertised currently. Here are a few good examples: Digital tickets were initially invented for airline ticketing, and the airline supply business SABRE established one of the earliest online booking systems. Airlines were the first to use eCommerce by establishing and managing online travel agencies.

When carefully designed, the approach includes the four P’s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. Airlines, just like every other industry, focus their branding and advertising efforts on a value proposition. Ryanair, an Irish low-cost carrier, has a value proposition that positions it as a “low fare carrier.” It communicates to customers what the company stands for and how it functions. On the other hand, Etihad, the UAE’s national flag airline, emphasizes deluxe air travel and a global route network. The overarching purpose of any carrier’s marketing and advertising approach is to gain a competitive edge by recognizing consumer demands and adapting strategies to match those expectations. 

Loyalty program

Airlines employ loyalty programs as one of their primary marketing strategies. The loyalty program of an airline can assist in gaining a new audience and converting them into prospective buyers. Airlines develop loyalty programs that award credits or scores to passengers who utilize airline services; such points may then be redeemed for various trips and other necessities. MileagePlus generated $1.8 billion in net income, according to United Airlines. In 2019, the program earned around $5.3 billion in miles, contributing to 12 percent of the airline’s total income, with a profit of 34%. MileagePlus is worth almost $22 billion to the airline.

Impact

Making an impression on the target audience is essential in any sort of marketing. The worst mistake airlines make is failing to carve out a distinct position in the hearts of their clients. Turkish Airlines, British Airways, and Lufthansa are prime examples. In commercials and marketing efforts, such heritage carriers always place a premium on culture, festivals, social events, and national values.

Social media campaigns

Social media has evolved into the most vital tool in human history. Almost every major, medium, and small business uses social media channels to promote their products or services. It enables direct and transparent interaction between customers and businesses. In the present day, the strength of social media may even upset governments and global power distribution. Airlines could not pass up the opportunity to capitalize, often highlighting current service offers, discounts, and special packages to keep clients engaged with their favorite airline brand. Airlines also provide customer assistance and live conversations via social media platforms.

Focus on the existing customer

The airlines should prioritize their consumers. Through word of mouth, loyal airline customers will boost the airline’s business more than prospective customers. Airlines utilize email and SMS marketing to keep consumers informed of impending discounts so that existing customers may take advantage of these deals first.

The power of influencers

Influencer marketing is now on the rise. Celebrity endorsement is being considered by all major businesses as the greatest strategy to improve ROI. Influencer marketing tactics should also be implemented by airlines. There are several advantages to using this approach to assist any airline to grow its business. Many European airlines depend extensively on influencer marketing. Turkish Airlines, for example, has used football stars in their advertisements.

Types of Clients

The leisure traveler is the most important sales channel. To operate in such an area, a considerable technological network is necessary. Because the leisure traveler sector is price-conscious, clients are more interested in low prices than extra offerings or superior service levels.

Business travelers are persons or groups who travel primarily for business purposes. The main aim here is optimal network selection and convenience, thus a high service class is preferred. While business passengers account for a significantly lower proportion of flights, they often generate more total income than leisure travelers, particularly with traditional airlines that do not practice low-cost tactics.

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