Airlines have always struggled with coming up with ways to entertain people who are flying from point A to point B. Until recently, most airlines simply offered in-flight movies, snacks, and Wi-Fi so passengers could entertain themselves online. But, in-flight entertainment is slowly changing thanks to pioneers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new experiential marketing trend:

Examples of In-Flight Entertainment

There are several airlines that are beginning to dabble in new forms of in-flight entertainment for their passengers. One of the airlines leading the way is Air France, which recently launched Joon, an airline designed solely for Millennial travelers. One of the ways that Joon plans to differentiate itself from other airlines is by offering high-end in-flight entertainment, including the opportunity to use virtual reality headsets. The headsets, which will only be offered to passengers on long flights who are sitting in business class, will transform the experience of watching movies and TV shows while in flight. It will also allow passengers who are not sitting next to one another to share the viewing experience with each other, thus making the flight more enjoyable.

Air France isn’t the only airline that is trying to offer more enjoyable experiences for passengers. Several months ago, Southwest Airlines announced that they had partnered with Warner Music Nashville to revamp their in-flight entertainment options. Passengers on select Southwest Airlines flights will now be able to enjoy live music while traveling 30,000 feet in the air. The airline only plans on hosting about 20 live in-flight concerts per year, so only a select group of passengers will be able to enjoy this experience.

However, some customers did not respond well to the news that Southwest was planning in-flight concerts. These customers felt that live music in a confined space would not only be disruptive, but also irritating to people who were trying to work or relax during the flight. Despite the backlash, Southwest has decided to move forward with their plans. The company stated that in a limited test run of the idea, they found that customers were more appreciative of the live music once they were in flight than they thought they would be before takeoff.

JetBlue is another airline that is no stranger to experiential marketing events in the sky. Last year, the airline surprised 150 passengers by announcing that they would all win a free round-trip ticket to one destination, but only if every passenger on the flight could agree on a single destination by the time the plane landed. Each passenger received a brochure with a list of all of the possibilities, and then passengers were invited to use the P.A. system to voice their opinions and make compelling arguments in favor of a certain destination. By the end of the flight, the 150 passengers on the plane had agreed upon a trip to Costa Rica.

How to Make In-Flight Experiential Marketing Work

Some airlines may want to plan an isolated event similar to JetBlue’s campaign, while others may want to create a more entertaining experience for all of their flights, similar to what Air France is doing with the virtual reality headsets. Regardless of the airline’s goal, there are certain things that they should keep in mind when executing their ideas.

First, it’s best to let customers know ahead of time if they will be on a flight with some sort of unique entertainment. For example, Southwest should tell customers before they purchase tickets if there will be live music on the flight they have selected. If you don’t give customers advanced notice, this could lead to an unpleasant flight experience.

If in-flight entertainment is only offered in certain seats, airlines should let customers know this as well. For example, Air France is only offering virtual reality headsets to passengers who are in business class. Knowing that virtual reality headsets are available in business class may convince some passengers to spend more and upgrade their tickets. But, if this information isn’t widely available to anyone who is considering buying a ticket, there’s no way for them to know what they’re missing out on.

It’s also important for airlines to choose the right flight. When JetBlue planned their experiential marketing event, they chose to host it on a six-hour flight so passengers had plenty of time to agree upon a final destination. If this event had been hosted on a short flight, it might not have been as successful since everything would have been rushed and chaotic. Airlines should also consider the amount of turbulence that is expected during the flight. If the flight is going to be rather bumpy, it’s best to keep passengers in their seats instead of hosting an event that requires them to get up and move around.

Forget about the days where watching movies on a small TV screen was the only form of entertainment available during a flight. Now, domestic and international airlines are finding new and exciting ways to keep passengers entertained until they have reached their final destination. For more marketing insights, talk to the experiential marketing experts at Factory 360. Contact our team today to discuss your experiential marketing needs and plan your next brand experience!

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