Troubled airlines stage publicity stunts to land new business

Written by admin on October 15, 2008 – 1:24 pm -

The troubled airline industry is adopting a new tactic for bringing in new business: publicity stunts.

JetBlue offered up 300 tickets for auction online. Starting bids were a few cents, but by closing time, bidders had driven prices way up, and in the process, the airline had found a new customer base.

Richard Branson has always been the quintessential businessman and showman. He announced he would launch the world’s first commercial space shuttle, Virgin Galactic. That’s not today’s hit. In the interim, he launched a new route between the Big Apple and Las Vegas that was co-branded with the popular HBO series “Entourage.”

The fleet of Airbus jets was wrapped in “Entourage” signage. There was also a month-long “Entourage Class” package for first-class passengers, with V.I.P. extras such as cashmere blankets and Godiva chocolates on-board. During the launch party at JFK airport, Branson was photographed having a champagne-spray fight with stars from the series. What’s a little bubbly when it comes to a photo op?

Is this money well spent? If it lures people back to the skies, why not? A little humor (and more) may compensate for the not-so-glamorous aspects of air travel.

In fact, during times of crisis, thinking out of the box may be just what it takes. Marketing people need to find a way to do more with less. Travelers are no fools. If only airlines would consider passengers their greatest assets and entice people to smile rather than to feel as if they’re captives or victims. Is all of this fantasy or within the realm of possibility?

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris.

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