Crowd sourcing has quickly become a trending technique for aviation companies to build relationships with their customers in the marketplace and to allow each individual consumer to contribute to an innovative process. Having similar effect of meeting the consumer in an arena, crowd sourcing is an outsourcing tactic used to “engage the masses, the crowd, and non-professional bystanders, to get involved in carrying out some of the company’s tasks or roles” (Peelan, Beltman; 2013). By asking questions, urging consumers to react on a social media post, or even by voting on an online poll, this customer engagement management model allows a business to create new relationships with potential customers and continue building relationships with loyal, repeat customers, also known as ambassadors and partners.
When relating this concept to the aviation industry, our team found that co-creating and crowd sourcing has been used trending over the past ten years to develop an idea, vote for a preferred idea, and even help to decorate an airplane with delft blue tiles. In 2011, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines utilized a crowd sourcing campaign called Tile & Inspire to “encourage community based design while preserving the brand’s Dutch heritage” (Tribal Worldwide, 2011). By using an accessible interface, contributors could upload their profile pictures and “transform them into a piece of Dutch tradition, individual Dutch Delftware blue tiles” (Tribal Worldwide, 2011). Consumers could even add unique designs to their own tiles and inspiring phrases. Furthermore, when relating to accessibility of the consumer and business relationship, each tile could be uploaded in a variety of languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, German, and more. These images were uploaded through KLM’s Facebook page and their TileYourself.com website. As a result of this unique campaign, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines unveiled a Boeing 777-200 airplane exterior wrapped in nearly 4,000 of these tiles and quotations.
Through co-creation, a business can also tackle common goals, and the most popular ones used by different airline companies are typically one of five objectives: solving a particular problem, reducing costs, associating their brands with a specific concept, obtaining first hand data from their community of users, and promoting a new feature, product, and/or route. Often, airline companies use crowd sourcing techniques to “solve problems related to the visible product, such as an in-flight meal… in a very ‘socially active’ way” (Simpliflying Pte LTD, 2015). Pinterest is a popular social media platform, with mainly a demographic of middle aged women. In 2012, British airline company, BMJ, launched a movement to encourage followers to re-pin photographs from nine destinations and routes that the airline offered. As a result, several lucky users were picked at random to win free return airline tickets to a destination of choice (Crowdsourcing.org, 2015).
Another bold example is Estonian Air’s website campaign asking all of its customers for feedback on what they would like to see differently. This example of co-creation, allowed customers to honestly answer how they felt about past experiences or what they would like to try in the future in order to have a successful trip with this airline company. As a result, Estonian Air received an overwhelming response from its followers. The CEO of the airline company stated in a press release that this campaign’s goals were not only to learn more about what the customer needs, but to educate the customer as to why procedures are performed in a certain way.
In short, crowd sourcing has a collective byproduct, known as crowd branding, where companies can not only engage customers, but build the brand as a twofold. As you can see from these examples, each airline company has built upon a well-cared for brand as well as engaged their consumers through new relationship building strategies. In the future, airline companies will need to work hard to find new and innovative ways to look at crowd sourcing options. Perhaps we will see connections being made on mobile phone application or with face to face promotions at mega events. Somewhere beyond Facebook walls and other social media platforms, companies will be looking at building new ideas with the main priority, their customers, in mind.
Peelan Dr., & R. Beltman, (2013), Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
CrowdSourcing.Org. (2015). British Airline Launches A Pinterest Lottery To Give Away Free Flights. Retrieved from http://www.crowdsourcing.org/document/british-airline-launches-a-pinterest-lottery-to-give-away-free-flights-/12308
CrowdSourcing.Org. (2015). Estonian Air Crowdsourcing Ideas To Engage Travelers. Retrieved from CrowdSourcing.Org: – http://www.crowdsourcing.org/document/estonian-air-crowdsourcing-ideas-to-engage-travelers-as-tero-taskila-takes-over-as-new-ceo/5125
SimpliFlying Pte LTD. (2015). Retrieved from The Top 10 Crowd Sourcing Initatives: http://simpliflying.com/2011/crowdbranding-the-top-10-crowdsourcing-initiatives-by-airlines/
Tribal Worldwide. (2011). KLM Wraps Plane In Consumer Portraits. Retrieved from Tribal Worldwide: http://tribalworldwide.com/uncategorized/klm-wraps-plane-in-consumer-portraits-using-user-generated-content/