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Why Online Video Matters for Airline Marketing

Mar 21, 2014 8:00 am

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Virgin America's latest safety video, a bigger hit online.


Last month we released our latest Skift Trends Report, Online Video Strategies in the Travel Industry which takes an inside look at how travel brands — especially airlines — are using online video to reach new customers and deepen relationships with existing ones. Below is a short extract on the reasons why online videos matter in airline marketing.

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The spread of online video has affected marketing for almost every business-to-consumer industry, but it is particularly important to a commoditized and opaque business such as airlines.

“I think that you see more and more content coming from airlines because it’s a unique business with such a big cost structure,” says Corey Evans, who manages sponsorship and community investment for WestJet, the Canadian airline known for its extravagant videos. “Most customers’ attitude to look for the lowest fare, no matter what. When you are in a dead heat with competitors, content could be the differentiating factor. It builds brand awareness and lets people know about how we treat our guests and our corporate social responsibility efforts.”

Especially as travelers increasingly use online travel agents or meta search engines where multiple airlines’ prices can be com- pared side-by-side, engaging content could differentiate one from the next.

Especially as travelers increasingly use online travel agents or meta search engines where multiple airlines’ prices can be com- pared side-by-side, engaging content could differentiate one from the next.


Travelers that aren’t particularly brand loyal ultimately choose on price, but they still
do research and view video content to help make their decision. Shashank Nigam, CEO of Simpliflying, an aviation marketing consultancy, says that flyers book on average 40 days prior to departure, and they watch up to an hour of related YouTube videos before they book. An interesting video could spread and make an airline stand out for when prices are similar.

“One thing unique to airlines is the extent of brand engagement,” he says. “Your engagement with a can of Coke is ten minutes at most, but when you fly, you are immersed in an airline’s brand for two to 24 hours. This means that with online video there is a lot of opportunity to engage the passengers before during and after travel. Airlines have to be at every touch point when it comes to online video to show their brand’s values and even sell ancillary services.”

Video can also help humanize extremely complex organizations like airlines. Video helps companies respond to and connect with customers. Air travel in 2014 often involves inconveniences that could ring loud across the internet.

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