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Airlines likely to raise social media budgets for 2013
Lee Pei Qi, Singapore, May 30, 2013

MORE airlines are clamouring for a slice of the social media pie, with more than 70 per cent of them intending to increase their budgets in this area this year – although many are struggling to do it right.


According to a survey of 29 airlines by SimpliFlying, an airline and airport consultancy firm, this represents a two-fold increase in the number of airlines planning to increase their social media budgets, when only 40 per cent did last year.


Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily on the sidelines of Travel Distribution Summit, SimpliFlying CEO, Shashank Nigam, said: “The biggest challenge by airlines is the insufficient allocation of resources to social media.”


Besides budget, Nigam also emphasised the importance of having a strategy before entering cyber space, saying many airlines wanted to be online but did not know what to do differently on social media.


“The majority of airlines and airports face this problem as they rely on social media agencies who just recommend basic tactics with no link to the company’s overall business goals.


“As a result, they may be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but there is ultimately no link to their strategy,” he added. According to Nigam, more than 200 airlines have Twitter accounts, but only 27 are highly-active tweeters.


“You may be present there, but if you are not doing it right, there is not sense at all,” he said.


Nigam singled out Japan Airlines (JAL) as a role model for having built an “astonishing” 10 mobile apps in 2012, covering everything from mobile bookings and airport navigation to inflight entertainment and flight countdown.


Tomohiro Nishihata, vice president for web sales and marketing, JAL, said: “We want to engage our customers at every possible touch point because that is how we can build brand loyalty and trust.”


Traci Mercer, vice president, market management for Asia-Pacific, Expedia, said engagement through social media was an “absolute emerging trend”.


“Fundamentally, we have gone from an information age to a recommendation age and this is all driven from social, which means the customers now become advocates,” she said.


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