In some ways, marketing an airline is a fairly easy concept. You’ve got a destination product that people want. You’re already set apart in your industry because you provide one of the fastest forms of commercial travel in the world today. The only thing that you’ve got to do as an airline is set yourself apart from competing airlines who want the same customers that you’ve got. In order to do that, you’ve got to have a marketing strategy that fits your strengths.
It all begins with your ability to provide the most value for the price that is being offered. This is a ratio that people think about unconsciously. This is why sometimes people will fly on a discount airline that charges huge luggage fees and $5 for a can of soda and at other times will invest into a first class ticket. Maximize your ratios and you’ll be able to maximize the amount of tickets that you’re booking every single day. Then you can utilize these additional ideas that have found success.
Effective Airline Marketing Strategies
1. Distinguish the Brand
In a highly competitive market, you’ve got to be quickly identified by your customer base. Your best strength is what will distinguish you from the other airlines that serve similar areas of the population base. Whether it’s low fares, higher flight frequencies, or the ability to service non-stop flights to regional airports in addition to major hubs, what you do that no one else does is how you’ll be able to be recognized.
2. Position Your Market
Limit your costs by positioning your market with a cost-efficient, limited market position. You don’t have to try to please everyone. You’ve got to work on pleasing your target demographics that are attracted to what distinguishes your brand. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways: singular aircraft types, faster ground crew turns, or a high percentage of on-time flights is just the start of what you could accomplish.
3. Be Competitive About Loyalty
Many airline travelers will focus on a low-cost fare first, but the second focus is on brand loyalty. In order to create loyalty, you’ve got to create relationships on an individualized basis. People don’t want vouchers or discounts or apologies for missed flights. They want to have world class customer service that treats them like a human being. They want empathy, not money.
4. What Is Your Pricing Strategy?
Think about the margins of profitability that you actually need for true success. Do you need to have a lot of liquid cash on-hand or is it there already? How much do you need to charge for expenses and administrative overhead? By keeping tighter margins, you’ll be able to price your tickets more competitively. That in itself is a powerful marketing solution that will garner a lot of attention.
5. Where Can You Save?
Operating costs are the #1 driver of higher ticket prices in this industry. What can you do to cut down on these costs? Even just the effort of communicating an effort to reduce costs will provide your airline’s brand with a marketing boost. People are still talking about the $100k olive of American Airlines. What could that be for your organization?
6. Go Direct
Any time you’ve got middlemen in the way of the purchasing process, you’re going to have costs passed along to a consumer in some way. Work on marketing in a B2C way instead of using intermediaries and you’ll accomplish two benefits that will attract a lot of attention to your brand: you’ll lower costs and you’ll build B2C relationships that will help to reinforce the loyalty that you want to have.
7. How Do People Benefit?
Getting from Point A to Point B quickly is just one benefit that the airline industry can provide. What other conveniences are you able to offer? Do you have relationships with rental car agencies or hotels that can give people additional discounts? Can people earn flight miles for free tickets or other rewards? Find out what your target demographics want and then find a way to incorporate that into your overall marketing strategy.
8. Create an Image
When people can visualize a personality for a company, they are more likely to interact with that agency. A company with a personality makes it seem more human. It’s a lot like giving a pet animal a name. Once kids name a pet, even if it is the stray cat that comes by once per week, it’s difficult to shoo that cat away. Don’t give people an excuse to shoo your airline away.
9. It’s a Good UX
The user experience that you provide on your ecommerce platform will make you or break you. People are already hesitant to purchase tickets that they may consider to be expensive for their budget. If there’s a barrier in place that helps to reinforce this feeling, the shopping cart is going to be abandoned. Let the user experience flow from the start of your sales funnel to the very end and you’ll see better results.
10. Promote the Community
Sometimes the best promotion isn’t the flight to a destination, but what can be done at that destination. What can people do once they fly to a chosen spot that your airline serves? Are there any unique features about that destination that add value to the ticket that someone might purchase? This kind of co-op marketing will often pay off because you’ll get added support from the destination when they see what they’re doing.
11. Be Consistent
Consistency counts more than experience. If you provide a quality flight time after time, then people are willing to book tickets. If you have 80 years of experience, but there’s a 6 out of 10 chance that a customer will be late at their destination or have a delay in the process, then there’s a good chance your airline will be bypassed – even for a more expensive flight in many instances.