It often startles me with how little airline companies are embracing online communication tools to reach their target audience. With the recent incline and interests sparked through online blogging and the current likes of Facebook and Twitter, these online marketing mechanisms could prove powerful to an organizations ongoing success if adopted and applied effectively.
Southwest Airlines are one of the few airline organizations that embrace all forms of online communication mediums, also introducing their own innovative online marketing tool referred to as ‘DING!‘
DING! is a live desktop application that sits in the tray of your taskbar. Upon hearing a ‘ding‘ noise, exclusive airfares are delivered straight to you at heavily discounted prices. These discounts are not available any where other than through the application. You can customize DING! to deliver deals from ten airports of your choice.
With a mission to deliver the highest quality of service to its customers, Southwest implemented the use of Twitter to keep in contact with its followers. Twitter is a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.
Southwest uses Twitter to respond to customer inquiries, announce any possible flight delays and promote new services and routes. If a customer tweets from an airport while experiencing difficulty with the airline, they are quick to receive a response from Southwest offering advice or a solution to their problem
Through Twitter, the airline is regularly posting photos allowing followers to gain a sense of the corporate culture that exists back at Southwest Headquarters in Texas.
While being known to serve nuts on board their flights, Southwest used a clever play on words when titling their online blog ‘Nuts About Southwest.’ Employees from all facets of the organization share their stories and work experiences giving avid readers some insight on what it is like to work for Southwest. A new blog is posted almost every day and the airline has also made use of video blogging. Polls are conducted and the latest Southwest news is shared.
One of the more common marketing tactics embraced by many organizations including Southwest Airlines is a fan page on Facebook. Facebook gives people and organizations the power to share, making the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, promote their company, upload unlimited photos and generate board discussions.
Currently, the Southwest fan page has 56,887 fans. Through this page, Southwest are able to communicate new offers and click-through promotions with their Facebook fans. There is a discussion board that generates an ample amount of conversation from fans. The Southwest marketing department who double as the page care-takers often respond to current discussions and the airlines employees are also encouraged to help contribute with any answers they can.
Fans are able to upload and share their Southwest photos to the Facebook page and the airline are able to post videos that may hold any value in promoting Southwest.
With Southwest embracing such innovative communication techniques at a time where people seem uncertain about traveling, it is no wonder that they recorded a December 2008 increase in revenue passenger miles, up 1.1 per cent from the 5.7billion RPMs flown in December of 2007.
In this unsteady economic climate, more airline organizations should be making use of these online communication tools to enhance their performance and try achieving the same results that Southwest has.