Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legacy Carrier American Airlines Gets Downright Inspirational -- Who Knew?

In recent weeks, this blog has fielded some pretty great discussions on innovation -- or lack thereof -- in the planning, or the inspirational phase, of the travel-booking continuum.

In a recent post , "Travel's Best and Brightest on 'Legacy OTAs' and State of Online Travel 2009," and several related posts, the following execs and analysts, among others, commented on inspiration and other issues in the travel-planning lifecycle: Kevin Fliess, Henry Harteveldt, Gregg Brockway, Joe Buhler, Lorraine Sileo, Valyn Perini, Elliott Ng, Robert K. Cole, Rick Seaney, Tom Lewis Katie Deines, Douglas Quinby, Jeff DeKorte, Josh Steinitz ,and Sarah Kennedy.

So, it took me by surprise when an American Airlines AAdvantage Program e-mail, with this video link, featuring travel to Madrid, popped into my in-box.

An image of Madrid, with the video link embedded, was prominently displayed on the top of the e-mail, running across its entire width. The image highlighted "New DFW to Madrid" service, and "Destination Madrid. Tapas, Flamenco, The Prado -- come see what makes Spain's capital city such an intriguing destination."

I have received plenty of AAdvantage promotional e-mails before and many of them have touted various destinations, but I don't recall such effective use of video in them.

When you follow the link to the American Airlines AAdvantage Milestones page, you can access additional Madrid videos on nightlife and off-the-beaten path locales, as well as videos about American Airlines' new One-Way Flex Awards in English and Spanish.

The Milestones page has social-media features, too, including a link to view and share your photos, and some forums, which look a little old-school for my tastes.

I am not a great fan of American Airlines' service and would much rather fly Continental or JetBlue out of my home airport, Newark.

But, I have to give American Airlines credit for going beyond an all-consuming transaction focus, and getting out there and trying to inspire some travel for AAdvantage members, who may have some miles to burn, but may not know up-front what destination they'd like to visit.

Speaking of 'Legacy OTAs,' it's a great sign for the travel industry that a legacy airline puts some energy into the inspiration phase of travel planning.

You can even say it is stimulating.


jebworks said...

Should have examined that very same email in my inbox a bit closer to realize that it was different from the usual "latest, cheapest deal stuff" I get from anyone in travel. In so many cases you could just change the logo and keep the message.

This AA effort could be a sign of change in the direction we discussed at length here on your blog previously. It could be a welcome development, and one appreciated by travelers who are researching and planning future trips. It definitely gets AA on the radar screen of potential travelers earlier.

It reminds me of the days when air carriers and DMOs were spending considerable joint marketing money to generate demand. In the case of travel to Europe, the ETC used to get a multiple of their own budget in matching funds by U.S. carriers. This could be a return to similar cooperative efforts although most likely on a smaller scale.

Dennis Schaal said...

Yes, hopefully this is a sign of things to come, of ways suppliers and others can find effective ways to stimulate demand.

There was a lot of talk in the Legacy OTA discussion pointing to online travel agencies going after the "low-hanging fruit" of travelers close to the booking phase.

By marketing in new ways to AAdvantage members, American still is going after low-hanging fruit, its most loyal passengers. But, at least the airline is trying some new tricks.