Ever since the introduction of ‘open skies policy’, a policy that permits unrestricted flight of airlines across continents, the overall scale of competition has intensified. Besides the enactment of the policy, the airline industry has also experienced a shift in consumer dynamics. Presently, consumers have become concerned about the quality of services that they receive to their prices. As such, airlines are currently lowering their cost of operation, adjusting their flight schedules, and increasing the range of their service offerings in an attempt to match the market dynamics. One of the areas that gave some airlines a higher market share as compared to their competitors is the use of digital platforms. Evidently, the airlines that have demonstrated exceptional use of the promotional media include Qatar and Emirates. Both airlines have been classified to be among the leaders in social platforms, which use client feedback to make their ratings. It is within this context that this paper compares the use of promotional strategies between Qatar and Emirates airlines and assesses the effectiveness of the strategies.
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Qatar and Emirates Airlines
Established in 1993, Qatar Airways, or airline, which is fully owned by the state of Qatar, has risen to be one of the leaders in the airline industry. The airline employs more than 45,000 human resources who work directly or indirectly. Due to its superb services, the airline has expanded to all the continents of the world and currently travels to over 150 destinations and has more than 200 aircraft. According to Dresner et al. (2015), Qatar Airline has improved the quality of services from those offered by Boeing 727 in 1996 to the high-end services provided by its modern Boeing 787 dream-liners. Currently, the services offered by the airline have not only posed serious competition for airlines in the UAE but is also threatening many airlines in Europe and the United States. Research by O’Connell and Bueno (2016) indicates that Qatar Airline tops the list of client ratings about the nature and quality of services offered by its cabin attendants.
Based in Dubai, Emirates Airlines has a rich history, which dates back to 1985 when it first began its operations. During its inception, the airline acquired training and its first aircraft from Pakistan Airline. Thereafter, the airline has grown to surpass a number of its competitors. Its series of acquisitions, leases, and purchases made the airline a leader in the industry with more than 100 fleets of Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A380-800, which are among the coveted planes in the aviation industry. It is important to note that the airline began its operations after Gulf Air minimized its services in the Middle East. Although the company used to provide the longest journey to travelers from Dubai to Auckland, Qatar Airline later surpassed it after introducing flights from Doha to the same destination. Dresner et al. (2015) explain that the scale of competition between Qatar and Emirates airlines is long-lived and is among the factors that have facilitated their growth. The almost simultaneous growth of the two airlines compounds the fact that their regional competition has a close relationship with the evident progress.
Types of Media and Promotional Strategies used by Qatar and Emirates Airlines
Both Qatar and Emirates airlines use several media to promote their products to its wide spectrum of customers around the globe. Fundamentally, while some types of media are regional, others are far-reaching and useful when the company needs to target several clients. According to Armstrong et al. (2015), leaflets, magazines, and brochures are effective when the airlines target a certain set of customers who can access print media. However, to get the attention of several clients, the airlines place their media on online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as well as offline platforms such as televisions. Videos, audios, and pictures of their new products are usually placed on the airline sites and affiliate websites.
Paid, owned, and earned adverts on online and offline platforms play a pivotal role in relaying information to the airlines’ potential clientele. Remarkably, a combination of the right media and a good strategy goes a long way in improving the performance of a company in the market (Lohmann & Spasojevic 2018). As such, by employing media such as videos, audios, pictures, leaflets, and placing them in online and offline platforms, Qatar and Emirates airlines continue to enjoy a high market share globally. To understand the importance of choosing the right media and strategy in product promotion, the paper delves into the new products introduced by Qatar and Emirates airlines and examines their effectiveness. It is worthwhile to elucidate that a larger part of the campaigns undertaken by Qatar and Emirates airlines revolved around online platforms. The focus accorded to online campaigns took effect because of their power to convey messages to millions of consumers in various parts of the world.
Promotion strategies used by Qatar Airline
Recently, Qatar Airways introduced a new type of seats also known as Qsuites. The suites are high-end and intended to improve customer satisfaction especially among those who are traveling for long hours. To promote the new product, the airline had to devise a strategy that could employ far-reaching communication media. It is worthwhile to assert that in modern times, online platforms play an integral role in communicating new products to millions of clients across the continent. Therefore, any media selected by the airline had to align itself with online platforms as well as some far-reaching offline platforms. Besides placing the new product on its social platforms and websites, the airline also launched the product and invited the media on a tour of the new Qsuite seats.
Mutzabaugh (2018) elucidates that by inviting the media on a tour, the company successfully had the images of its high-end products relayed to the potential customers in the United States and around the globe. Furthermore, the airline also placed videos on online platforms where potential clients could see demonstrations and the comfort derived from the new Qsuite seats. From websites such as the one advanced by Mutzabaugh (2018), it is clear that the airline chose the right media to communicate to its potential clients and utilized a superb promotional strategy. With the right media and excellent strategy, the company expects to increase its market share and outsmart its competitors.
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Promotion Strategies used by Emirates Airline
Just like its close competitor, Qatar Airline, Emirates Airlines launched its new and amazing suites in its first and business classes. The suites are not only exceptional but are also eye-catching and comfortable. According to Talib (2017), the suites rate among the best around the globe and match the desires of modern travelers. The offerings such as food, entertainment, and an internet connection, which come along with the suites, play an instrumental role in ensuring that travelers enjoy their time all through the journey to a destination of their choice. Issues such as privacy and comfort topped the list of factors considered during the design of the magnificent suites offered in the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER. After its launch that occurred in Dubai, the first set of passengers to experience the suites were those traveling to Brussels on 1st December 2017.
To ensure that its new product reached a majority of target customers, Emirates Airlines launched its product in an event that succeeded a period of extensive promotion. Prior to the launch, the airline had announced that it would unveil new and exceptional suites that were unmatched by its competitors. Therefore, the launch came as a timely event after a period of waiting generated by the announcement, which initiated curiosity among prospective clients. Mutzabaugh (2018) alludes that curiosity is one of the promotional strategies that smart managers use to ensure that new products acquire the desired attention from potential consumers. Therefore, the timely launch of the new suites in Dubai led to positive reviews on the Airline’s website and other online platforms. During the launch, a set of clients got the opportunity to view the suites and even experience the comfort that travelers using the airline would enjoy. Moreover, the media got a chance to take pictures as they enjoyed a guided tour around the aircraft.
Fundamentally, the guided tours did not only take place in Dubai but also occurred after the first set of passengers alighted at Brussels. At Brussels airport, the media, stakeholders, and VIP customers got the chance to tour the suites and assess their quality. It is important to explain that by giving the media, the stakeholders, and some clients the chance to assess the suites, the airline focused on winning the hearts of potential clients through word-of-mouth marketing. Essentially, word-of-mouth endorsement emanates from customers who get the chance to check products from an organization and examine whether they match their pre-consumption expectations (Armstrong et al. 2015). When products match consumer expectations, organizations such as the Emirates Airline are likely to increase their market share.
Moreover, by inviting the media, images of the suites would be relayed through online and offline platforms. By relaying the information, the media would market the new suites and in turn, persuade potential consumers to use the airline. After its launch, the airline posted videos and pictures on the YouTube platform, its website, and its social sites. According to Talib (2017), the purpose of the videos and pictures was strategic and focused on ensuring that the new product attained the desired promotion and reached a wider set of consumers around the world. Moreover, the website of the company gave its visitors the chance to have an online tour of the aircraft’s cabin and make their decisions on the quality of the suites. To ensure that the visitors got an almost accurate online tour of the suite, the airline used a combination of high definition videos and pictures. Therefore, it is clear that like its competitor, Qatar Airline, Emirates Airlines utilized various types of communication media in a strategic and persuasive manner.
|Illustrative Material for Promotion Strategies Used By Qatar and Emirates |
Effectiveness of the Strategy
In as much as the communication and promotion strategies used by both Qatar and Emirates airlines are superb and persuasive, they still have some areas of weakness. The areas of weakness or parity revolve around the nature of messaging information and the succession of the two strategies. Messaging is one area of parity evidenced by how the airlines convey their messages to the potential customers. While the use of online campaigns to market new products is far-reaching, airlines need to focus on offline platforms. It is notable to state that offline platforms are more credible before some conservative sects of customers. Although online campaigns, which utilize platforms and media such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, may appeal to modern and dynamic clientele, conservative individuals may not receive the message from these platforms positively. As such by paying lots of focus on online platforms, the airlines downplay a sect of conservative clients who are equally important in augmenting their market share.
Consequently, the products introduced by both airlines as new are similar and appear as if Qatar copied the suites introduced by Emirates. After Emirates Airlines introduced its product in 2017, Qatar Airline made its introduction in 2018. The implication of the succession is a feeling that Qatar is not innovative, a sentiment that may affect the overall reputation of the airline. Presently, several customers who air their opinions using online platforms cannot provide a clear distinction between the services offered by the two airlines. The absence of a clear difference between the two airlines from the passengers intending to use them emanates from their successive introduction of similar products and services.
Notably, some of the recommendations that can help the airlines improve their services and product offerings include continued research and pricing. The essence of continued research stems from the ever-changing customer needs and the intensifying competition from airlines based in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Without continued research, the airlines may fail to notice a shift in customer preferences or new offerings from its competitors, a phenomenon that can adversely affect its position in the aviation industry. Moreover, the airlines need to work on their prices so that they reflect utility for the money paid by clients. Although the current pricing of the two airlines is relative, other competing airlines pose a threat that they cannot underscore. A change in price, especially in the face of the cutthroat competition, can have dire implications on the reputation and market share of organizations. Therefore, pricing is a factor that Qatar and Emirates Airlines need to check frequently to remain relevant and dominant in the market.
Qatar and Emirates airlines are carriers that provide similar services to a wide spectrum of customers. The two carriers have gradually used online campaign strategies to reach their customers located in various parts of the world. Some of the media that the airlines have used include print, audiovisual, as well as online platforms. By using the media, the airlines relay their messages to their target clients and communicate any new service or product to them. The new products introduced recently by the airlines became successful only after they introduced them into the online platforms and gave prospective customers an opportunity to have a look at them and evaluate their respective qualities. It is important for airlines to continue engaging in extensive research so that they sustain the delivery of high-end products that match consumer expectations.
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Dresner, M, Eroglu, C, Hofer, C, Mendez, F & Tan, K 2015, ‘The impact of Gulf carrier competition on US airlines’, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, vol. 79, no. 1, pp.31-41.
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O’Connell, J & Bueno, O 2016, ‘A study into the hub performance Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways and their competitive position against the major European hubbing airlines’, Journal of Air Transport Management, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 17-31.
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