SimpliFlying Awards 2017

This year’s SimpliFlying Awards for Excellence in Social Media winners. Image: Maryann Simson

APEX Insight: In a world of fake news and spurious representations of everyday life on social media, WestJet’s humanized approach to content creation, brand marketing and social culture is refreshing and deserving of praise. 

The annual SimpliFlying Awards for Excellence in Social Media were held at Aviation Festival in London yesterday. The awards honor airlines for their achievements in digital and social media marketing and Canadian carrier WestJet was recognized repeatedly for its exceptional work in this area, taking home the awards for Best Overall Airline, Best Airline in North America and Best Airline in Driving Revenues. The airline was also ‘Highly Commended’ in Branding, an award that ultimately went to WOW Air.

“Twelve months ago, we embarked on a content-led, “always on” approach to address opportunities and challenges in our organization, primarily using social media as our content distribution platform,” WestJet’s director of Marketing Communications, Rob Daintree told APEX Media. “Whether that’s brand, product marketing, loyalty, retail, or destinations. We’re also generating and building strong relationships with the Facebooks of the world and other content platforms within Canada. The outcome, in terms of recognition, shows that it’s working. But also, from a business perspective, we see results revenue-wise and in other metrics we measure in an ongoing basis.”

“From a business perspective, we see results revenue-wise.” – Rob Daintree, WestJet

Though WestJet works round-the-clock and in tandem with social platforms to continually develop transactional capabilities within those channels, its team is ultimately quite small in comparison to social media trailblazers like KLM, which boasts a team of 250 social media specialists speaking half a dozen languages and using just as many social messaging platforms.

Daintree believes the close integration of corporate marketing, customer care and social “gatekeepers” at the airline, plus the authenticity of WestJet’s social marketing message, are key reasons why WestJet’s brand resonates so strongly across social media.

“We believe in being authentic storytellers and love profiling our guests, but also enjoy profiling our WestJetters. WestJetters are our brand, all 12,000 of them,” he said. “They’re the ones that create remarkable guest experiences every day, which makes our job a lot easier as the marketing team. Those stories we tell are real, whether they be guest experiences or the great work that our community investment team does in the CSR space with all our fantastic charitable partners. These are stories that we continue to tell. They’re very real and they get great engagement, lots of likes and lots of shares.”

“Those stories we tell are real, whether they be guest experiences or the great work that our community investment team does in the CSR space.” – Rob Daintree, WestJet

This year, the SimplFlying Award winners were decided by a panel of distinguished industry judges. Max Kingsley-Jones (Executive Director Content, FlightGlobal), Brittany Masters (former Global Brand Director 777X, Boeing) and Dennis Owen (former Group Manager Social Media, Cathay Pacific) were appointed as judges for their ability to evaluate the nominees impartially and for their understanding of the aviation world and product branding/marketing. Airlines were assessed on how they demonstrated innovativeness, engagement and business impact over the past year.

In a press release announcing the award winners, Shashank Nigam, CEO, SimpliFlying said: “SimpliFlying Awards encourage airlines to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. It’s heartening to see the likes of WestJet pushing the boundaries of airline marketing.”

Full list of winners and special mentions from the 2017 Simpliflying Awards:

Best Airline in Social Media: WestJet

Best Airline in Branding: WOW air

Highly commended in Branding: Silk Air, WestJet

Best Airline in Customer Service: Alaska Airlines

Highly commended in Customer Service: Brussels Airlines, Icelandair

Best Airline in Launches: Brussels Airlines

Highly commended in Launches: Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific

Best Airline in Driving Revenues: WestJet

Highly commended in Driving Revenues: Royal Jordanian Airlines, Volaris

Best Airline in North America: WestJet

Best Airline in Latin America: AeroMexico

Best Airline in Europe: WOW air

Best Airline in Asia Pacific: Air New Zealand

AwardsHall of Fame: American Airlines

Best New Airline Safety Video: British Airways

The APEX Awards recognize specific achievements that were successfully implemented in the past year, from Best Video Curation to Best Personalization Innovation. Congratulations to the APEX Awards finalists, winners will be announced at the APEX Awards Ceremony on Monday, September 25 at APEX EXPO.