Airlines use of social media as interactive marketing


Mobile marketing is developing rapidly and is generally considered to have enormous
potential as a dominant internet infrastructure. The ultimate promise of mobile marketing is to integrate some form of the organisation’s presence into the everyday lives of its customers. With a mobile device, the organisation can enter their living space, their context, identify people and make wireless connections between several media that surround them (Peelen, 2013).


(Turban,E. 2016).

Since the  usage of social media in the arline indutry has become an upcoming trend, it is relevant how to promote relevant content which triggers a high level of customer engagement. As stated in the article of customer engagement and metrics, there are five stages of social media engagement (Turban, 2016). Obviously. the lowest level of engagement is the consuming stage. They only read blogs, watch videos, look at photos, listen to podcasts, and read the reviews and opinions expressed by others occupying higher levels of engagement on websites and forums. While in the collaboration process, people help the organizations to improve their products.

When putting it in the airline context, top airlines usually reach the creation phase as the their best level. There is an example with Cathay Pacific Airline where a customer decided to post some details about his trip on Twitter (Forbes, 2015). He was pleasantly surprised to receive a personal response from the airline when he posted details of his trip on Twitter because other brands rarely interact their followers. The client noticed that Cathay Pacific was different, engaging with nearly everyone who used @cathaypacific in their posts. He decided to test the airline’s social media team and requested an interview with the head of social media. By the end of the day the guy was having an email exchange with Dennis Owen, the group manager for social media at Cathay Pacific Airways.

According to ashraf (2015), there are a couple of airlines that seamlessly post content through different social media channels. For example, Singapore Airlines use beautiful pictures to support their core features such as the luxurious interior and service at an affordable price. Therefore, people often react on the multiple channels with a great variety of comments and professional Airlines respond to each comment made.

Furthermore, the newest platform that has emerged is Instagram. This channel is the perfect opportunity for Airline companies to promote their product and also trendy destinations. Qatar Airlines Instagram account is one of the best in the industry. They have reached more than 10k likes in the picture below.


(Instagram, 2016).

In the case of Qatar Airlines, it can be said that this type of interaction belong to the connected and collecting phase of social media engagement. It can be seen that on Instagram pictures people actively like, comment and tag other friends.

Reference list

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, England: Pearson.

Forbes. (2015). Social Media Tips From The World’s Top Airline. Retrieved from:

Ashraf, S. (2015). How The World’s Top 7 Airlines Use Social Media. Retrieved from:

Turban, E., Strauss, J., & Lai, L. (2016). Customer Engagement and Metrics. In Social Commerce (pp. 99-125). Springer International Publishing.



Importance of data quality for customer value in the airline sector.

Data quality will have influence not only on customer acquisition but also on customer retention and relationship development. Improving data quality costs money. Relevant customer data need to be gathered and their quality needs to be managed. Information on the identity and profile of former, current and prospective customers has to be collected and registered. Data have to be taken from different sources and bought from external data suppliers who will supply single-use data (Peelen, 2013).

The main data that has to be collected are transactional data, lifestyle data and behavioural data. Transactional data is information relating to what people spend, where they spend it, how often and how much. Lifestyle data refers to who people are, where they live, what their interests are and what’s important to them. Behavioural data relates to people’s activity, both online and offline, what they do and via which channels (Matthews, 2016).

There are two real life examples on acquiring and using data.The first case is the one of Swissair Group. Their primary data source is the frequent flyer programme database. Frequent flyer program helps to increase and award loyalty of their customers. The key program features are mileage accrual (members can earn miles for air travel, but also for activities like hotel stays, car rental and credit card usage) and mileage redemption (members can spend miles for air travel, hotel stays etc.). For each member, data about demographic figures as well as the current state within the program are collected in a database. A second database contains a list of all single past flight legs, which is consisted departure and arrival airports, booking information and members id. Supplier activities like credit card usage are also gathered in an additional database. There is no information available on passengers’ revenue, because the frequent flyer database is used only for administrative purposes. In order to complete the flight activities in the frequent flyer database with revenue data, it is relevant to assign the corresponding values to the individual flight segments from a sales information database, where revenue information about individual bookings is available (Pritcher, n.d).

In order to know which customers bring the most revenue, Swissair Group has decided to use the strategy of customer profiling. Therefore, the company has chosen to target only the members of the Frequent Flyer program. The reason for that is because members’ information are more reliable and the data about flight activities are more complete.

The second example is Boxever. Boxever is a cloud-based solution that tracks every aspect of customer intelligence. It contains a unique timeline view that contains behaviors, transactions, demographics and social data stitched together using sophisticated identity matching algorithms (Boxever, 2016). In addition, the technology also provides product recommendation, real-time interaction management and triggered communication. Therefore, a few major airlines such as Emirates, Air New Zealand and Alitalia started to use Boxever.

It can be concluded that various company track data on their own while some companies use the method of outsourcing. Working indepedently might be more reliable but also more time-consuming. However, the acquisition of the most advanced technologies that allow to analyze customer data could cost a fortune for many airline companies.



Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Boxever (2016.). Customer Intelligence. Retrieved from:

Matthews, D. (2016.). How connected data is targeting consumers. Retrieved from:

Pritcher, L. (n.d.). Data Mining And Strategic Marketing In The Airline Industry. doi:




Mapping the consumer decision-making journey

Customer journey is the process of tracking and describing the experiences customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to these experiences (Dent, n.d). In the airline industry, there a few touchpoints that help to identify the customers. The phases are divided to choosing, booking, pre-flight, airport, in-flight and post flight (ascend, 2012).


(Dent, 2012)

As the major shared touchpoints from the customer journey needs to be consistent and well taken care, there are a couple of methods that enables effective data acquisition and turn into the customer knowledge. Furthermore, it has to be taken into consideration that collection of data about the customer as an user and person entails higher costs than to just form the image of the customer as a buyer (Peelen, 2013).

In choosing, booking and pre-flight phases, databases stregth lies in their ability to supply behavioural data about the buyer and, in terms of market research, their suitability is to provide data on the customer as user, person or organisation. While in stages of the airport, in-flight and post-flight information is obtained during personal contact with customers that serves to further improve the profile (Peelen, 2013).

Depending on the CRM strategy, it is not enough only to know about the customers but also to understand the context in which that customer operates. Therefore this can be done by limiting the number of personas. As stated in the article, the optimal number is between 4 and 7 personas. After selecting the amount of personas, airlines can easier focus on which touchpoints requires more or less attention. With the right usage of online channels and appropritate interactions in-flight, the end goal for airline companies is to invest in solutions that increase customer experience and thus grow  brand loyalty.

It is relevant to give an insight to airline companies how apply CRM strategies in practice.  Sabre airlines is known for its investments in IT that provides facilitating customer solutions. The company fits in the ‘hybrid’ business model. This model combines the cost-saving methodologies of a pure low-cost airline with the service, flexibility and route structure of a full-service carrier (Sabre Airline Solutions, n.d). In addition, the model focuses a lot on the technological aspect, which is necessary to bring flexibility in quick and effective responses.


(Sabre Airline Solutions, n.d)

To conclude the topic, it can be stated that nowadays strategies are complex and have to be well defined. The touchpoints in the mapping of the customer journey is the main reference point to see if the strategies fit well into that model. Moreover, various methods of tracking the customer have been described such as the inclusion of personas, the necessary approach during the phases of the major share touchpoints and practical examples that makes the experience more pleasant through all phases of the customer journey.



Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Dent, J. (n.d). Customer Journey Mapping: A Walk In Customers’ Shoes. Retrieved from:

Sabre Airline Solutions. (n.d). The Evolution Of The Airline Business Model. Retrieved from:

Dent, J. (2012). Customers: The Heart Of An Airline. Retrieved from:







Incorporating innovative engagement methods on-flight experiences

Being social refers to people’s tendency to want to belong to or form goups. It is a basic human trait. (Peelen, E. & Beltman, R., 2013). The main challenge in the airline industry is to find innovative activities that can engage passengers at a whole new level.

Nowadays, most travellers use various devices as form of communication. Therefore, the future of the airline companies is to know how to use social media that builds long-term customer relationship. In order to do that, some essential aspects of social media have to be taken into consideration. The ideal theoretical framework that can describe these conditions is called the honeycomb of social media. The model is consisted of elements such as sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, groups, conversation and identity.


(Peelen, E., 2013)

Furthermore, the theoretical knowledge has to be put correctly in practice. Hence, different cases will be represented which can clearly match with the theory applied. The first given example is the one of KLM airlines. The organization has introduced an idea known as ‘meet and seat’ (mycustomer, 2012). It allows passengers on its long-haul flights to connect with fellow travellers via Facebook and LinkedIn. By registering their social media profiles prior to the flight, passengers can network in-flight by choosing to sit next to someone with similar interests or arrange a meet-up prior to take off.

Air New Zealand, following in the footsteps of Dell and holiday park operator Parks Resort, launched a ‘share and earn’ scheme where customers can earn up to £50 for every recommendation they post on Facebook, Twitter, email or blog that is turned into a premium economy booking on its 777-300 Premium Economy Spaceseat.

It can be concluded that both airlines have used suitable customer engagement strategies that have allowed passengers to be active on flight. As a result, the parts of the social media honeycomb are activated. When airlines give the right incentives or opportunities to meet new people, activities like sharing, conversation and relationships are initially started. If the customers are really keen to the content given, then people start building new groups, create new identities and at the same time increase the reputation of the airline companies. The perfect stage for the airlines companies is when all components of the model are applied simultaneously. However, in order to achieve that level, customers have to be completely loyal to the brand and reach the stage of advocacy, when people have positive recommendations about the company.


Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

mycustomer. (2012). Are airlines flying high with social engagement schemes? Retrieved from: