Carriers look to refill cabins with promotional activities

2021-03-18 12:07:49

A Juneyao Air employee offers a lesson in flying via livestreamed simulation on Bilibili in March in Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily] Post-pandemic wanderlust helping lift confidence among domestic airlines More domestic airlines are expected to organize various activities and offer creative products to attract more travelers back to the skies as Chinese consumers show revived interest in jetting off on getaways, said market insiders. Founded nearly 15 years ago, Juneyao Air, a Shanghai-based private carrier, said it plans to launch monthly livestreaming sessions featuring simulated flights to popularize aviation knowledge and better interact with viewers. In early March, the carrier carried out its first livestreaming session featuring such simulations, thus providing aviation knowledge usually contained within cockpits. The session, which was broadcast on video portal Bilibili, recreated the cockpit details of a commercial flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Beijing Daxing International Airport. A Juneyao pilot and a livestreaming anchor simulated a virtual flight on an Airbus A321neo aircraft using dedicated gaming hardware. It included the processes of taking off, cruising and landing. More than 10,000 viewers interacted online during the session. "As an airline operating in the traditional transportation sector, we would like to communicate more with the public. Air travelers have become increasingly young and diverse, and their thinking and ways to acquire information are different from older generations," Juneyao said in a written reply. "By interacting with viewers during livestreaming sessions, we can deliver brand value and learn more about their opinions, and thus improve our products," the carrier said. This was Juneyao Air's first public service live broadcast of simulated flying. The company is considering selling flight tickets and related products during livestreaming sessions at a later date. It will analyze consumer reactions and expectations and decide on the portfolio of auxiliary products it will offer, the company said. Since 2018, Juneyao has organized various activities for aviation fans, fueled by an emerging enthusiasm for aviation culture in China. Such events include inviting travelers to visit pilot training facilities and participate in debut flights on new routes. The carrier said many young people have indicated a strong interest in the aviation sector, but they lack a means to learn more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some online interactive channels have become more popular. "The livestreaming sessions can help Juneyao Air gain more exposure and attention. By actively holding some activities and promoting its brand, the airline can brighten its reputation and fuel potential sales increases of flight tickets," said Yu Zhanfu, partner and vice-president for China unit at consultancy Roland Berger. Previously, aviation culture was the domain of hard-core flying enthusiasts. Now, it has become prevalent as more people travel frequently and pay attention to aviation news and events, Yu added. "Selling related products during livestreaming sessions will constitute a relatively small part of auxiliary income for airlines. The core strategic component that carriers focus on is building customer loyalty and stickiness, which will then stimulate ticket sales," Yu said. Juneyao said that as the pandemic increasingly comes under better control in China, it has seen occupancy rates of its flights constantly increasing in recent days. For the upcoming Labor Day holiday in May, the number of people who have booked Juneyao flights is twice the number seen in the same period of 2019, it said. In the past year, a number of domestic and foreign carriers have introduced various creative events to generate auxiliary business revenue amid the impact from the pandemic. Late last year, Singapore Airlines allowed visitors to get a rare behind-the-scenes look at its training center with guided tours and activities. Additionally, a number of foreign carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Emirates Airlines have built their own premium brands. For instance, travelers can buy or use credits to redeem some in-flight products such as blankets on their official websites. Guangdong province-based Shenzhen Airlines said that in the next few years, it will launch five series of cultural and creative products under its own brand, and promote them through social media platforms. The carrier launched a group of self-designed products such as airplane models, soap gift box sets and pilot uniforms for children during a livestreaming session held last year.