Friday, April 07, 2006

Lazy Frog - Part 2

So low-cost airline Jet2 saw a substantial uplift in traffic to its website following chief executive Philip Meeson’s comments about striking French workers.

[Read Heather Hopkins from Hitwise’s post here]

Many readers of the story on the BBC, for example, would have been curious as to what Meeson actually said in his article on the airline’s website, and probably decided to see if the story had been pulled following criticism from French unions representing air traffic controllers.

Others, not knowing who Jet2 are, possibly, would have been curious enough to take a peak at the airline’s site anyway.

Of course the company hasn’t bowed to any of the pressure and removed the offending article, as they say, from its site.

Meeson was obviously a bit peeved at problems across the English Channel affecting its services (disruption mainly to its services in and out of Leeds-Bradford airport), but sceptics might wonder whether the decision to go public with such a frank and barbed statement was driven more by the marketing department.

The cut-throat world of the small to medium sized low-cost airline, battling against the high profile carriers that have upped their game online to offer cheap fares across Europe, may have played a part in the past week’s activities.

The internet, while allowing the likes of Jet2 to reach a mass market like never before, is also forcing those without the marketing muscle of Ryanair, EasyJet and to think, erm, cleverly about drumming up brand awareness.

Arjo Ghosh from Spannerworks, during an event at the Association of British Travel Agents last week, said publicity stunts and PR can go a long way to boosting traffic to a site.

Now having a pop at striking French air traffic controllers might be 1) a bit obvious or 2) risks alienating those that may actually sympathise with them.

But of course the page where the story is located also features a plug for its summer 2007 tickets. And if Jet2 sells a flight from Blackpool to Spain for next year, then perhaps it might all be worthwhile.

A risky strategy for Jet2, of course, but as we used to say at the Essex Enquirer, my old local paper: “Any publicity is good publicity."

[A small and utterly indiscreet plug for Travolution here – airlines, their web strategy and the power they now wield is an issue close to our hearts and will feature heavily in the April edition of the magazine]

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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