How Should Airlines Communicate With Customers During a Crisis?


Image: Jordan Sanchez, Unsplash

Getting communication right during this crisis may determine whether airlines have passengers waiting to fly with them in the future.

As many around the world dropped plans to leave their homes this spring and summer, airlines have had to face a near-total drop in demand with no known end date. Amid that shock, airlines scrambled to figure out how best to communicate with customers – and have done so with wide-ranging results.

“You see a dichotomy,” says Shashank Nigam, CEO and founder of aviation consultancy SimpliFlying. “Some airlines have gone eerily quiet. They’ve just pulled their planned marketing campaign and haven’t put anything in its place. On the other hand, you see other airlines that are taking the opportunity to share what they’re doing during the crisis.”

Marketing campaigns and communications that hit the mark with customers have the potential of influencing a traveler’s decision to fly with one airline over another in the future, especially as people’s inboxes become flooded with coronavirus updates from just about every company they’ve ever done business with. “It’s important to be in touch with your customers, not just giving generic information but actually giving useful info,” Nigam says.

The clear winners will be airlines that have kept in touch with customers while finding novel ways to maintain engagement, even as they are unable to fly. In some ways, the crisis has accentuated just how important marketing can be, and how situations like these can even present opportunities for building brand awareness.

“Clearing the Air” was originally published in the 10.3 June/July issue of APEX Experience magazine.