Thursday, November 12, 2009

Virgin America on company wide customer engagement

At the CMO Club Summit in San Francisco, Porter Gale, CMO of Virgin America, spoke about how her airline is engaging customers instead of just just doing traditional marketing.
Looking at air travel - How can we get consumers more engaged?
They realized it's not just a destination, it's an experience. Here's what Virgin America's airlines did to improve the flying experience. They looked at every aspect of the flying experience and thought how they could get people more engaged with the experience.
  • Took them four years to get the right to fly. Launched a site called LetVAfly to try to get people to support them. They got support from Kevin and Alex from Diggnation. This grassroots program helped them get approval more quickly.
  • No need to wait for the cart - You can order from your seat. You can order mixed drinks.
  • Created a safety video that's entertaining content. Turning an old situation that was quite boring into something that was memorable. They admit it took them six months to get approval from the FAA on that safety video.
  • First airline to offer in-flight wi-fi.
It's important to connect with your audience. Don't market to them.
Tweeting and partnerships lead to seat sales. They focus on that.
  • With YouTube, they brought a bunch of key influencers and video bloggers on a flight and asked them to make videos.
  • Made a partnership with the HBO show "Entourage." The show spends a lot of time in LA and Las Vegas (two destinations for Virgin America). They wrapped a plane with the "Entourage" logo, flew people to Vegas and showed the 5th season premiere episode on the plane.
  • People are so passionate about the Virgin America brand that they send in videos of their experience on Virgin America.
  • Activate a community by asking them to get friends to buy tickets. If ten friends buy a ticket they get a free ticket.
Virgin America's social media efforts They have a 15 person marketing team. They have 3/4th of a person dedicated to social media.
  • They've amplified press with social media.
  • Richard Branson announced he wanted to fight Stephen Colbert. Colbert talked about it on the show and it went viral. Virgin America calculated that the exposure was worth $379K in advertising media.
  • People tweeting each other on planes and buying each other drinks.
  • Built a relationship with Hammer on a plane and then he shot a portion of an episode of his reality show on a plane.
Dealing with negative social media press If someone is publicly talking negatively about you, get them off the public social web to a private conversation. You don't want this playing out publicly.

It's very hard to say what the ROI is on their social media. But the customer relations has been fantastic. They've had situations where the community closes sales for them. For example, people will tweet out that they're thinking about flying Virgin America and other tweeters will reassure them.

No comments: