Air New Zealand’s Rico: Hot or Not?

October 21, 2010

Meet Rico.

Rico was born on a plane between two countries over the International Date Line on June 6th and June 7th of 1972. His mother and father were hippies and moved off the coast of Equador when Rico was only young and remained there for several years. In his later years, Rico went on to work at a travelling circus giving him the opportunity to see many places he’d never seen before. After tiring of the circus life, he tied himself to a small plane carrying coffee beans and landed in the USA, bright eyed and ready to begin his new life as the face of Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is at it again, this time with a new advertising campaign looking to be its most controversial yet – although in this instance, I’m not so sure being controversial is a bad thing. Rico made his debut in three commercials released last week to create awareness of the airlines new children’s storytime services and premium economy space seats on their 777-300 aircraft.

In two of the three commercials, Rico makes lewd, suggestive comments to fellow Air New Zealand passengers that strike up conversation with him. His thick Equadorian accent plays a part in the mispronunciation of words, in turn, giving them a double meaning: “All we need now is a nice Kiwi bitch (beach).”

In the second commercial titled “The Intimate Art of Touching”, Rico rips out one liners such as “You can lick the crack…” and “The screen is like a woman, and you must be gentle with her…put your finger here and touch her lightly…”

What’s even more impressive is that Rico has his own Facebook page. His interests are listed as “travelling to everywhere, meating the friend. Relapsing in nice place, writing the book and taking away photo.” Rico interacts with his 4,837 fans by engaging in wall conversations with them in a fun and flirtatious manner. Can we expect Rico to make a Twitter appearance? I definitely hope so.

Personally, I think these advertisements are a genius move by Air New Zealand. Yes, they are controversial, but being controversial isn’t necessarily a bad thing now, is it? Controversy generates interest and talk, whether it be via word of mouth, news or online communication platforms; all of which produce an increase in brand awareness and gain the attention and curiosity of the general public, or perhaps a whole new market that never previously considered Air New Zealand as their airline of choice.

Do you find Air New Zealand’s new advertising campaign offensive or funny? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 



Saltimbanco to Hit Aussie Soil in 2011

October 12, 2010

If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you’d be well aware that I spent July 2009 – July 2010 interning with Walt Disney World at Cirque du Soleil’s resident show, La Nouba.

I can still recall the way my eyes lit up while watching the show for the very first time. I was captivated; it was almost trance-like. La Nouba was a world where dreams became reality; a place that allowed me to escape to a land of  make-believe and fantasy, even if only for a short while. La Nouba was the first Cirque du Soleil show I had ever seen and since then, I have had the pleasure of adding Mystère, Zumanity and LOVE to my viewing collection.

From April of 2011, I look forward to revisiting this fantasy world once again. Hot on the heels of its European stint, Cirque du Soleil is bringing the Saltimbanco over for an Australian arena tour.

Saltimbanco explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday October 18, 2010 at 9am. If you are a Cirque Club Member you are able to purchase pre-sale tickets from Thursday October 7 at 9am – Sunday October 17 at 11pm. If you would like the opportunity to pre-purchase tickets, it isn’t too late to sign up and become a Cirque Club Member – it’s free!

You don’t want to miss out!

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Tour Dates: Cirque du Soleil – Saltimbanco 2011

Perth: April 21 – May 9, Challenge Stadium
Adelaide:
May 12 – May 22, Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Melbourne:
May 25 – June 11, Rod Laver Arena

Hobart:
June 15 – June 19, Derwent Entertainment Centre

Brisbane: July 8 – July 17, Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Newcastle:
July 20 – July 24, Newcastle Entertainment Centre

Sydney: July 27 – August 14, Acer Arena
Wollongong:
August 17 – August 21, WIN Entertainment Centre

More information: Ticketek

 

 



Can Social Media Act as a Double-edged Sword?

September 20, 2010

How the positives of social media can generate negativity for the Australian Travel & Tourism Industry.

If the Australian travel and tourism industry wants to leave a global mark, it must embrace the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to adopt and harness a strong digital strategy says Tourism Australia’s executive chairman, Rick Allert.

“As more of the world continues to embrace the Internet in new and diverse ways, this is an obvious medium we need to fully utilise to convey the depth and breadth of Australia’s travel and tourism experience,” Mr Allert claims.

While recognising the Australian travel and tourism industries need to jump on the social media bandwagon, Mr Allert advised that a reliance on social networking sites could prove consequential for travel and tourism operators, with negative word-of-mouth posing a threat for a country’s image.

Poor Mr Allert failed epically at practicing what he preached. In March of 2010, Tourism Australia launched a $150 million advertising campaign to replace their previous ill-fated ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign. Using the new slogan, ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, they invited Australians to submit their favourite photos and taglines of the country to capture that authentic, every-day Australian touch.

Within hours of launching the new site, the online campaign was hijacked by satire blog nothinglikeaustralia.net.

Tourism Australia made the terrible mistake of forgetting to register variations of their websites URL. While having claimed the .com address, this left a window of opportunity for virtually anybody to register nothinglikeaustralia.net. Mr Allert must still be kicking himself.

~

On November 23rd 2007, low-cost carrier, Tiger Airways Australia commenced domestic flight services throughout Australia. On June 7th, 2008 Tiger took a walk on the wild side by embracing the use of social-networking giant, Twitter @tigerairways. While Twitter has proven to be a powerful  communication device for other Australian airline companies like @VirginBlue and @JetstarAirways, Tiger Airways lacked what these two companies were able to grasp hold of.

The second half of 2008 saw Tiger embrace Twitter a total of five times. 2009 brought on a slight  improvement with a whooping 29 tweets <insert sarcasm here>; one of them even promising follower’s innovation and excitement; kind of ironic, don’t you think? Perhaps this earth-shattering promise of excitement was the increase of their tweets, six-fold, on previous years results?

Sadly, in 2010, Tiger Airways’ Twitter account died a slow and painful death (of only five tweets) with a direct flight out to Twitter heaven.

A big mistake made by companies is the abandoning of accounts. Tiger Airways has ignored the benefits that Twitter can encompass for them and rather than shutting off its Twitter account completely, it has decided to portray a negative company image for its 2,954 followers via account abandonment.

Dear neglected @tigerairways Twitter followers, here’s an idea.

~

Virgin Blue and V Australia have done an outstanding job appealing to customers via their Facebook pages with 20,000+ and 15,000+ ‘likes’ respectively. They’ve also gone that extra mile in mastering communicative channels via Twitter and corporate blogging. Despite these social networking measures, any given corporate message may be easily counteracted by dissatisfied customer blogs and blog posts, especially those that rank highly on Google.

A simple Google search of ‘Virgin Blue Blog’ reveals the top ranking result to be a blog post from a disgruntled Virgin Blue customer; it even ranks above the V Australia Blog itself. Although having been posted way back in March of 2006, this particular blog post still generates interest amongst other dissatisfied Virgin Blue customers, with comments still being posted to it as recent as September of 2010.

This example is not specific to Virgin Blue and V Australia but is just one of the many cases used to illustrate the permanency of the Internet and the power of social media.



Adding Value & Brand Loyalty by Embracing Social Media

September 19, 2010

Why the Australian travel & hospitality industry should become tech-savvy.

Having taken an immediate interest in social media from the very beginning, while Interning abroad in the USA last year, I was extremely surprised to observe just how much the Australian travel and hospitality industry were lacking when compared to the US in terms of social media. While witnessing first hand how US companies such as Southwest Airlines had embraced social media to generate interest within their company, I was silently hoping that Australia would echo such sentiments; sooner rather than later.

Fifteen months later and I’m back on Aussie soil and glad to see that the Australian travel and hospitality industry (well, part of it, at least) has finally come to its senses and is taking a walk on the tech-savvy side.

For those companies still lacking or refusing to get with the times, here is the link between using social media to attract brand loyalty and add corporate value to your company:

1. Discounts and Deal Offers

While the economy is on a mend, it is still not in tip-top shape. The average middle-class individual or family is budget conscious and constantly on the look out for travel discounts and deals; why spend more if you can get the same flight or hotel at a discount rate through a different travel agent, website or airline? While it pays to do your research, Twitter is breaking down the research phase by tweeting an immediate answer directly to your Twitter feed.

Having embraced the power of Twitter, Jetstar @JetstarAirways are a great example of this. Every Friday Jetstar tweets its Friday Fare Frenzy deals with a link back to its website for all of its 10,236 followers to see. Many of these fares are so cheap it is no doubt that many of Jetstar’s followers purchase on impulse either for a spontaneous weekend getaway or a planned vacation. Not only does Jetstar promote its Friday Fare Frenzy but also tweets other fantastic travel deals and arranges phone contact for customers that are experiencing difficulties or are unsatisfied with the service they have received.

Like Jetstar, STA Travel Australia @statravelAU is also a lover of all things Twitter. STA Travel promotes discount airfares and any travel tours they have on sale as well as running Twitter prize give aways for their 6,482 followers.

I can’t understand why travel and hospitality companies, or any company for that matter, wouldn’t want to embrace the communication powers that Twitter embodies; in essence, it is free advertising.

2. Communication of Catastrophic Events

With the ever-lingering concern of terrorism and natural disasters in the back of people’s minds while travelling, the ability of travel companies to deal with catastrophe and unplanned tragedy quickly and efficiently while still showing sympathy and concern to those involved is vital to their success.

On January 16, 2009 at 7:36am US EST, Janis Krums @jkrums tweeted these words accompanied by this photo he snapped on his cell phone:

Twitter user, Janis Krums was on a ferry used to rescue stranded passengers after the miracle landing of  US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River. His tweet was the first to make headlines; before any official media or news outlet was able to pick up on it. In fact, Twitter broke the news of the incident around 15 minutes before the mainstream media alerted viewers and readers to the crash.

As Twitter user @hrhmedia pointed out , the FlightStats information website was showing the downed flight as 26 minutes late, but still “en route” to its destination of Charlotte in North Carolina. And while Twitter’s trends page, which identifies the hot keywords used in tweets, was flagging up terms such as “US Airways”, “Hudson”, “plane” and “crash”, Google’s similar trending service showed no signs of those keywords an hour and more after the incident occurred.

While not being able to find any supporting evidence that US Airways @USAirways had their Twitter account back when this incident occured, it would have, on their part, been in line to tweet about the incident and that no lives were lost to reassure the families and friends of those on board. Another great and recent US Airways Twitter example can be viewed below:

3. Generate Customer Loyalty and Engagement

While the first real challenge for travel and hospitality companies is actually joining social media communities and developing a taste for how they work, the key goal of staking a claim in the social media world is to build a base of dedicated followers who will keep coming back.

Most travel and hospitality organisations are looking for more than just a transaction. They’re after loyalty; a long term engagement between the company, brand and the customer.

The key to achieving this is by the use of deals offered exclusively through social media channels.

Airtran Airways introduced Facebook Friday Fares giving its Facebook fans unique deals as well as the AirTran U Creeper game which gives its Facebook fans the opportunity to win a round-trip flight with the airline.

United Airlines @UnitedAirlines has cleverly combined a tweet and a fare to introduce twares. These are fare specials offered exlusively through Twitter. With a following of 116,638 and growing daily, it’s no wonder so many Twitter users are following United. Exclusive deals like this one keep the customer coming back again and again.

4. Real-time Monitoring

Airlines are able to notify all followers via Twitter of any cancelled or delayed flights as they happen. This may save you a few hours of sitting around at the airport or driving to the airport to pick someone up only to wait around for hours and spend countless dollars on rip off parking fares because of a delayed flight.

Newcomer, The Honey Bar @theHONEYBAR is a purpose built hospitality venue in the South Melbourne precinct. They have taken an immense interest in Twitter to communicate to their rapidly growing list of 506 followers. The Honey Bar has even suggest it will go above and beyond to satisfy its customers…

@deltachris tweeted The Honey Bar informing them that he had past by earlier in the night but didn’t have the time to stop in. The Honey Bar tweet back informing Chris that…

Twitter has made it possible to be in the know as it happens. Imagine how satisfied one would be if they could tweet in their meal in advance to their favourite restaurant and not have to sit around and wait for it to be cooked.

Later this month, The Honey Bar will play host to the @socialmelb Tweetup (Twitter meet up); another intelligent way of generating interest and followers amongst the Melbourne scene.

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So what are you waiting for? Embrace your inner tech-geek and reap the benefits of social media today.


The Australian Race of Amazingness

September 4, 2010

Location: Melbourne, Australia

The other day I felt the need to do something spontaneous; something that would get my adrenaline pumping. I had an appetite for adventure and wanted to experience something thrilling; like nothing I’ve ever done before. So I did. Yep. Call me crazy, but I, along with an ex-coworker, applied for The Amazing Race Australia.

Since this is the first Australian season of the reality TV program, I’m ready to sacrifice my first born child when assuming thousands upon thousand of people have applied. Realistically, I’m not expecting anything to come of this, especially since I can’t even manage to receive a response back from a regular employer while job hunting, let alone a global-phenomenon reality game show. If they ever happened to call back I may just shit my pants. How lovely that would be. I wonder if that’s the sort of warm response they’re after. Fingers crossed.

I’d love to watch me frolicking around the world on TV. I think you would too.