By Andrew Blum*
“Is this any way to run an airline?” That advertising slogan for National Airlines including the airline’s reply, “You bet it is!” wouldn’t fly now in today’s consumer and social media age. The airline business has changed rapidly since then and so have the media, consumers and PR.
Airline fares, seat space, fees for a range of things that used to be free, lingering fuel surcharges and then some have combined in recent years to tarnish the image of airlines and air travel.
Nowadays, airlines are dealing with a myriad of PR issues, ranging from the ire of the customer over what they do to the whole flying experience – such as airport security lines. A lot of it is out of the airlines’ control. But they seem to generally have weathered the PR storm, nonetheless – helped by a smart group of PR people.
One thing that the airlines have inadvertently passed on to other parts of the travel and hospitality industry, including hotels and rental car companies, is fees and more fees.
With social media now a big way for consumers to express themselves about their travel experiences, one has to wonder why a very consumer-oriented industry sector would give consumers a big softball pitch to hit about complaints: fees.
Overall, travel and hospitality is a tough and bottom line business and it’s done well in its marketing. But it may continue to shoot itself in the PR and social media foot from time to time.
*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms.