Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Iberia wants you to Fly Around the World with its new Facebook game

Gamification is the word of the moment in social media and airlines are starting to experiment with it. Spanish flag-carrier Iberia, now part of the IAG Group, is the latest airline to experiment with this channel in order to generate buzz and follower engagement.

Iberia has just launched "Flying Around the World", a Facebook game here users can accumulate "hours of flight" by answering questions related to the airline and its products and services, the goal is to accumulate these hours of flight, you start as a co-pilot on short haul flights and become "Long-haul Pilot" (Comandante de largo radio), you can answer up to five questions per day and each correct answer gives you "flying hours".

Each question is labeled as a "flight", for example to complete a Madrid-Milan flight I had to answer how Iberia's last minute discounted online booking service is called (answer "Los que Corren, Vuelan" ("those that run, get to fly"). Iberia will be progressively adding new flight sectors over time,as the goal is to keep users engaged. As any good social media "trap", you get extra points for liking Iberia's Facebook page and leaving them your email (not that they hadn't it already!).

The more "zones (Europe, Latin America, etc.) you complete, the more chances you have to win in the draw that takes place at the end of the contest (15th December). Iberia will throw in "special" sectors to cover from time to time, as a chance to accumulate more "flight hours".

The prize? You guessed it!
4 free flights for the select few to any of the 24 long-haul destinations on Iberia's network (or "Avios" Iberia's, and IAG's, frequent flier "currency")

I was playing around with it a little bit, an, although the mechanics of the game are not particularly revolutionary, it is a nicely executed project that makes for some good light entertainment while you recall the extent of Iberia's network...I'll let you know in case I win!

To Fly to Serve: British Airways' great retro commercial

Those of you that live in the UK and have been to cinema recently would have probably watched it, as it has been on the air for a few weeks already...I finally had the chance to watch BA's commercial "To Fly to Serve" a few days ago and quite liked it, so I thought about sharing it here for all readers to enjoy!

By the way, I am not sure what the first two aircraft shown in the video are...any clues? (the second one looks like a Dragon Rapide, but not sure)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Routes Exchange: an innovative approach to route planning for airlines and airports

Route planning is one of the aspects of the airline business that I am more passionate about.

In the competitive globalized World we live in it is not only airports but whole communities that are affected by route planning decisions. Network quality is vital not only to airports but it can also have a dramatic effect on the overall competitiveness of the region they serve.

Just think what was the typical centralized route network in every European country twenty years ago (I still keep some flag carrier's in-flight magazines from those days!), you would have one or (eventually) two hubs per country with flights to regional airports and a handful of other major capitals, most secondary airports had to live off charter flights and the regular links to the country's hub...but then came Ryanair, Easyjet and all the other LCCs and proved that many more combinations were possible, that if you had the right business model you could make thinner routes work too and the overall air travel cake got bigger.

But the route frenzy is not over, just as we see the low cost model consolidating in virtually every major air market (except Russia), I would expect another wave of route development driven by the long-haul this time: better aircraft economics (think Boeing 787) will unlock potential on many thin routes, the emerging mega-carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways will continue to build up their presence in Europe, China and the US, increasingly covering second tier cities (something they already do in India) plus the long-haul low cost model that is already succeding in the Asia-Pacific region is coming to Europe soon.

There is a world of possibilities out there, to make sense of all the different options?

Here is when "Route Exchange" comes into play...

I found the concept really innovative, "Route Exchange" is an online platform, managed by Routes Online, that airlines and airports can use to evaluate potential new routes. It is a tool that helps both sides (airlines and airports) identify market opportunities and facilitates the information flow between them.

There is also the possibility of proactively seeking new routes opportunities, this is for example what AirAsiaX did this summer, sending a Request for Proposals (RFP) for its upcoming European expansion. All European airports were invited to submit their RFPs to the innovative Malaysian airline...but this particular contest is going to be the topic of a separate upcoming post...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Do airports need to advertise to the general public?

I was taking a ride on the London underground (aka "the Tube") the other day and an advertisement on the top of the wagon, just above my head, caught my eye...It was a London Heathrow airport ad (see picture) highlighting the airport's role in the UK economy by connecting the country to the World's fastest growing economies...all fine, no doubt about it, but...does the average commuter really care? will you choose to fly from LHR next time because of this? ok, I know, it's a public relations stunt...but, again:

if you are an airport, is an ad on the tube the best way to deliver the message?