Hot Air 4: Sometimes it’s the small decisions that can change your life forever

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WestJet and the Vancouver Airport have used social media effectively to market their brands. (Photo: John Jamieson, YVR)

Social media content and network expansion; these topics have almost nothing in common. I would be surprised if there are any shared statistics. In our increasingly globalized world, information is becoming more accessible and available; positive new is celebrated while negative content raises questions and doubt. As the world becomes more connected, an organization’s appearance is becoming a crucial component for success. Given our thirst for constant information, small decisions are starting to garner considerable attention.

 

The ability to stand out in a competitive market through positive differentiation can go a long way to future successes. Bold decision making and successful implementation of new ideas attract new investors. Depending on the level of public interest, future growth may be generated through small decisions.

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Recently Westjet made headlines by placing an order for 10 Boeing 787-9’s with options for an additional 10 aircraft. For a carrier which has established an image of “doing things differently”, especially when it comes to social media, WestJet’s fleet expansion will need to be carefully managed in order to optimize passenger revenue.

According to PR reports, the airline plans to use the Dreamliners to begin service to Asia and Latin America. Their decision to look at growing markets mirrors the strategy implemented by Canadian Airlines in the early 1990’s. The Asian market is growing at a rapid rate and with a codeshare agreement in place with the HNA Group, China’s largest privatize airline conglomerate, WestJet has the support to break into the market.

I am more doubtful about the viability of network growth in South America. Despite WestJet’s codeshare partnership with LATAM, the Chilean conglomerate with divisions in 7 South American countries, conditions may not be ideal for WestJet. Even though the carrier would offer an alternative to Air Canada’s Star Alliance monopoly, financial liabilities exist which could negatively impact the carrier’s profitability. Air Canada recently downgraded service in Venezuela, and Brazil, home to LATAM’s largest division, has experienced significant economic crises over the past 3 years.

It is important to note that WestJet’s choice to order the larger variant of the 787, the -9 instead of the smaller -8, could expose the carrier to financial risk. While the -9 does offer superior economics to the smaller -8, the crucial factor in long-haul low-cost operations is load factor optimization. While these orders tend to include opt-out clauses or options, I’m surprised that they consider splitting their order and giving themselves the option to downscale or upgrade services depending on demand.

It is an exciting time in Canadian Aviation. I’m eager to learn more as more information becomes available. The long-haul division is sure to generate considerable media coverage as it competes for attention with the WestJet’s proposed Ultra Low-Cost subsidiary set to launch in the summer of 2018.

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Twitter and Instagram allow aviation companies to showcase their brand and attract new audiences. (John Jamieson, September 17th, 2017, YVR)

On a different note, the evolution of digital content and social media has changed the way corporations interact with their audiences. Social Media has become a means of connecting with millennials. Appearance is becoming as important as substance. People are looking for content to supplement paper productions. While many people use Twitter or Facebook as a means of checking for airport delays or flight cancellations, there has been a change in how social platforms are being set up. Many airports and airlines are targeting younger audiences with fun content and sensationalism posts in an effort to generate positive “clickbait”.

While many people use Twitter or Facebook as a means of checking for airport delays or flight cancellations, there has been a change in how social platforms are being set up. Many airports and airlines are targeting younger audiences with fun content and sensationalism posts in an effort to generate positive “clickbait”. The importance of maintaining Social Media platforms has opened up new jobs and allowed content creators a degree of freedom to explore new options for maintaining hype.

Those who are willing to adapt to changing conditions are starting to reap the benefits. The Vancouver Airport Authority has devoted a team to monitor YVR’s social media platforms and they have done a great job promoting events in Vancouver and engaging with casual viewers. Their genuine content and fun content has allowed YVR to amass 55 thousand twitter followers, the most for a Candian airport. Edmonton International has similarly used their social media platforms to engage with millennials and grow their brand. Neither airport is the busiest in Canada, but they have made small decisions which have the potential to distinguish themselves from other airports. Be sure to check them out; both social media teams regularly post new content and showcase spectacular photos.

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