Brand communications: Travel
How airlines have adapted until today
International travel restrictions, country-wide lockdowns, and holiday cancellations brought about by COVID-19 have heavily impacted the airline industry.
Despite drastic reductions in air travel which lead to heavy financial consequences, airlines kept in touch with their audience to support, inform, educate and connect while tuning their voice from a commercial to a human-centric approach.
Here we look at the ways airlines in the Middle East have responded to the pandemic as it has unfolded.
Keeping passengers safe
The quick spread of COVID-19 caught the world off-guard, and airlines had to adapt fast to prevent health risks on-board and put passengers’ minds at ease.
@Saudi_Airlines and @flynas used Video on Twitter to show what was happening behind the scenes to prevent the spread of the virus.
In terms of personal care, @emirates used an infographic image and @qatarairways showed a video of practical advice on how to stay safe during the journey.
Bringing people back home
As travel restrictions were introduced stories emerged on Twitter of people left stranded far from home.
Using an Image Tweet, @qatarairways informed its audience that it has kept key routes open to enable travelers to get back to their loved ones.
Making it easier to make new plans
The spread of COVID-19 disrupted travel plans on a mass scale, as people were left unsure about when they could travel. Airlines showed they understood, by offering passengers more flexible options to change their plans.
@qatarairways enabled customers to change their travel dates free of charge.
@Saudi_Airlines waived cancellation and rebooking fees, and kept tickets open for when it is safe to fly again.
Protecting the front line
With most air travel suspended, it became even more difficult to get necessary medical supplies to frontline workers.
@emirates stepped up, providing flights to transport urgent medical supplies to where they were needed most.
Making lockdown life a little better
As lockdown became the ‘new normal’, airlines shifted their focus, sharing messages of humour and hope to show how important it was to #StayHome.
@emirates shared a series of fun #EmiratesAtHome videos, to connect with what’s happening, which perfectly captured the realities of lockdown life.
@qatarairways took the #armchairtravel trend to a new level, as they encouraged people to make the most of being at home.
@Saudi_Airlines shared a strong message of hope to encourage people to #StayHome while using hashtags and emojis to reinforce their message.
Coming together to make a difference
To demonstrate the power of unity, @flynas, @flyadeal, @Saudi_Airlines and @SaudiGulf_SGA collaborated on a public campaign to promote health and safety.
Helping us appreciate and celebrate
COVID-19 was defined by acts of kindness, and airlines celebrated this by showing their appreciation for those risking everything and by recognising what matters most.
@qatarairways joined the #ThankYouHeroes conversation by offering free return air travel to frontline healthcare workers.
@Saudi_Airlines took the opportunity to celebrate the efforts of other key workers, by celebrating #InternationalFlightAttendantDay.
@flynas and @qatarairways shared inspirational messages to unite mothers and children on Mother’s Day, no matter where they were in the world.
Getting us back off the ground
As international travel resumes, passengers must now adapt to the new realities of air travel. Again, Twitter is the place for airlines to educate passengers and put travellers’ minds at ease about their upcoming trip.
Personal hygiene kits are the new norm, as demonstrated by @emirates.
@Saudi_Airlines and @qatarairways are also raising awareness about the new, stricter health procedures on-board, to prepare and reassure passengers.
@emirates is in the process of resuming flights to some select 50 destinations by July. As part of the resumption, the airline published a video focused on ‘reassurance messaging’ and what ‘Fly Better’ would mean to customers in the post-COVID period.
COVID-19 has highlighted the incredible adaptability of airlines in terms of reaction and messaging to keep customers on board. With Twitter, they have been able to respond to, reassure, connect with and, ultimately, keep travellers safe.