Qantas founded in 1920, the second oldest airline in the world, is Australia’s largest domestic carrier (about 65%) and its international carrier (about 18.7%). Qantas had ruled the Australian skies for a while, at least until Virgin Blue entered the Australian aviation market in 2000. A part of the Virgin group of companies, Virgin Blue was one of the first airlines to directly compete with Qantas in the leisure sector of the market, in Australia. Can Virgin Australia compete in this aviation space?? Well let’s see…
Social Media presence –
Qantas, being the second oldest airline company and Virgin Australia, the newer entrant, nearly a century apart, both are actively participating in a handful of social media sites. As we can see from both their websites, social media does have a strong influence, especially if Qantas, a 94-year-old company is actively participating in these sites. The main websites for Qantas and Virgin Australia, both have links to their respective social Media sites, such as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram. One of the differences on their main page, with respect to their social media sites, is the fact that Qantas has an aggregate count of the number of followers for each of their social sites on their main page, whereas Virgin Australia did not. Does that make a difference? Does the number of followers, or number of views, influence us?? Maybe. Depending on what we consider as a high number, we may be curious and visit their site/sites, or if we were frequent flyers of that particular airline, we may be curious to see what our fellow travelers have to comment on.
Virgin Australia’s sites are as flamboyant as Sir Richard Branson. Another interesting aspect of these sites are the fact that they all have links, to their other social media sites. These sites do have overlapping information, nevertheless, reflecting current and new trends with the airlines. For example a new program they have launched a new program for children under 10, called ‘flyer support’, a special passport for kids, making them feel very special and very important. I guess Virgin Australia, is catching them very young, I mean in obtaining their future business. Whether it’s showing a sense of corporate social responsibility by recognizing Queensland fire and rescue team (who were returning via Virgin Australia) from assisting affected areas hit by cyclone Ita, or recognizing customers, or enhancing their travel experience, its all very apparent on Facebook, and Twitter and Pinterest etc.…
Their Pinterest site has various boards related to Australian travel and leisure, like travel and adventure, things to see and do, places to eat, travel tips etc.… LinkedIn site has access to the company employment and possible network connections to their employees, and their Instagram site has pictures of their recent news stories also posted on Facebook or Pinterest or YouTube. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I guess I am biased when I say that the Virgin Australia social media sites were more impressive and more interesting to view and to read.
On the other hand, an interesting observation on Qantas sites– their Social media sites listed on their main website, have an updated total/aggregate count of followers, views, fans etc.… and links to these respective social media sites are embedded in these numbers. Similar to their competitors Facebook page, Qantas also has current news, and trends listed, but also provide a links to their customer support/Live chat on their main page. LinkedIn pages have access to careers at Qantas and Instagram and Twitter sites with similar overlapping stories from Facebook. Again, maybe I was biased as I had viewed the Virgin Australia’s sites (before I viewed Qantas sites), and been impressed by them, nevertheless, I did read the comments on Qantas, and at a first glance saw some complains, of which some were addressed some were not.
I wasn’t totally convinced that these companies had their social media sites as a simple marketing exercise, at least not Virgin Australia. Their respective content was current (posted as of this month) and the replies to comments were current as well. Nevertheless, I still feel that Virgin Australia’s approach had several touch points, which considered customers at various levels, whether it were communities, individuals or parents/children, they seem to have that special touch, that extra magic, that will perhaps influence us to be back again. On one hand, I may not be fair in passing a judgment based on my 3 or 4 days of observation of their respective social media sites, but on the other hand, I am convinced that Qantas does have a competitor, Virgin Australia.