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Experiential marketing takes flight with WestJet & Air Berlin

01-January-2014
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Experiential marketing takes flight with WestJet & Air Berlin

With the festive mood prevalent around the world this time of the year, brands have been undertaking various activities and campaigns in a bid to create memorable moments for consumers. Not to be left behind are various airline companies who have lined up offerings for their passengers while ferrying them to destinations all over the world.

One such company is WestJet Airlines, which had a Christmas surprise for its passengers aboard two flights to Calgary this December. The passengers were met at the gate by a giant video screen through which they could tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas. Four hours later, when they reached Calgary, the baggage carousel was full of the gifts that they had asked for. While those two flights were in the air, WestJet employees in Calgary scoured shops and bought the things people had asked for – including a big LCD television, a train set, an Android tablet, socks, underwear and even return tickets home.

Apart from gifts for passengers, WestJet also upped the emotional quotient with donations of flight tickets. The airline uploaded video of the Christmas Miracle initiative on YouTube and invited viewers to share the video with family and friends. WestJet declared that it will donate flight tickets to the Ronald McDonald House once the video hit 200,000 views. The video garnered more than 34 million views and also a mountain of goodwill for the airline.

Watch the video here…

This is not the first time that WestJet Airlines has carried out such an initiative. Last year, too, the airline had surprised its passengers waiting to board a red-eye flight at Calgary Airport by offering them an alternative express flight to the North Pole. Then, decorated with Christmas lights and snow, the gates opened to elves and WestJet staff singing and dancing at the terminal and later, the flash-mob ended with Santa distributing stockings filled with gifts to all the passengers present there. WestJet also donated flights to reunite families through its partner charitiesas it generated over a million views on YouTube. They, along-with Walt Disney Company, created the magical experience of flying à la Disney style.

With everyone trying to cash in on the holiday season, what sets this approach apart is the fact that WestJet kept the consumers at the centre of its universe.

Air Berlin unveiled its special brand of Christmas livery with the specially decorated Boeing 737, complete with a huge ‘Flying home for Christmas’ message splashed across the aircraft.

Such activities can have valuable lessons for airlines in India in building up a loyal clientele and creating a memorable experience for their passengers. Given the usual problems of delayed or cancelled flights due to fog, especially in North India, during the Christmas-New Year season, passengers do not expect much beyond reaching their destinations on time and without much hassle. One wonders when airlines in India can ramp up their customer focus.

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