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Social media is not just a medium anymore, it is a person: Deepti Sampat, Vistara

In conversation with Social Samosa, Deepti Sampat from Vistara shares the evolving landscape of marketing in the airline industry.

The last 18 months of the pandemic saw the airline industry almost come to a standstill. As the market recovered with revenge travel amongst other factors, the consumers focused on hygiene and safety, more than ever. With an aim to bring premium and luxurious airline experiences, Deepti Sampat, VP – Marketing & Ancillary Services sheds light on the Vistara marketing strategy and initiatives focused on keeping the customers at the center while urging them to travel only when it is safe and the best for them.

Edited Excerpts

Vistara recently turned 7 in 2022. How has the airline’s advertising journey been to date? Please take us through the #SevenWingsofSafety campaign.

Over the years, our marketing strategy has evolved and gone through many modifications to suit the environment, we live in. At the very beginning, our focus was solely to create awareness, which we did through a brand ambassador. The objective of our campaigns was to create awareness around an elevated flying experience.

To address the apprehension of passengers to fly during COVID-19, we launched two main campaigns – #FlyingFeelsSafeAgain, right after the lockdown, and #AirlineIndiaTrusts. These were developed with the aim to build confidence among flyers and were led phase-wise wherein our crew and other front-end staff shared the various safety measures we were taking. #AirlineIndiaTrusts was a campaign that had customers talking about how they were taken care of.

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Please take us through your media mix. How much budget is allocated for digital? Role of social media as we navigate forward.

We spend more on digital than on any other mediums.

The attention span on social is reducing and we are constantly developing content accordingly and monitoring the campaigns. Social media is an important tool to build the brand personality as the users have the option to speak to the brand directly through social media. Hence, it is not just a medium anymore, it is a person.

We also consider the age group that heavily comprises the users, and we set our tone of messaging accordingly. On social media, our endeavor is to stay updated and relevant, while not losing sight of our brand ethos.

What is your digital marketing strategy? Which social media platforms work the best for you?

Digital plays the most important role for us while building our strategy. We develop content according to the medium. We regularly track what is working well from a brand’s standpoint and what is leading to revenue generation. Social media strategy is also key in building brand equity.

Every platform fulfills a certain role. For instance, Instagram is a growing platform for us, it is an important medium to disseminate information to a large audience and engage with users who share a common love for photography, travel, and aircraft. Twitter is where we communicate with our users more often, as we solve their day-to-day grievances promptly and effectively. We also have a very large growing base on LinkedIn, where we share information about employee culture, openings, etc.

What are the tools and criteria put in place to gauge the ROI from digital marketing?

We look at MoM and YoY growth of engagement rate and followers as our prime KPIs. Further, we also look at the website visits as our secondary areas of reporting.

Additionally, we do sentiment analysis and gauge user sentiment towards our brand through our platforms. We currently use the reporting tools provided by platforms like Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics. We also use Adobe suite for website tracking and One Direct for our ORM and sentiment analysis.

Please take us through your communication strategy – which are the content hooks/buckets that work the best for you?

It is largely divided into three – destination launch, contextual and brand campaigns. We focus on creating engaging content for all three in order to create brand engagement and get a good share of voice.

Destination and product launches are the best performers out of the three.

What will be your overall marketing strategy for 2022? How do you differentiate Vistara in the sector through marketing initiatives?

A lot is dependent on how the COVID-19 situation progresses. Like many other brands, we had to put certain plans on hold. We hope things settle down by the end of the financial year so that we can focus on giving a breather to the brand that it requires.

The strategy for the domestic market will largely be around traveling with the best airline in India.

Also read: 55% of our ad spends are on digital platforms: Vimesh P, Casagrand

Our service and product are the differentiators, hence for now we will focus on these strengths, keeping the customer in the center. Internationally, we would like to introduce the brand, which we have not yet been able to do in a manner we would like to.

What will be your regional marketing strategy going forward? From a hyperlocal perspective, what will be the role of vernacular to drive business objectives?

Our customers are largely premium customers from metro cities. Hence, we have not really focused on the vernacular much.

We keep the customer at the center of everything we do, aiming to make sure that we cater to their expectations, whether is it via the inflight product and services or other product offerings like travel insurance, holiday packages, or even tools like chatbot and WhatsApp for ease in connecting with us.  

As a marketer, what are your thoughts on the changing consumer behavior? What are the major changes that marketers need to bring about to evolve with the consumer? 

The customer behavior in terms of choosing an airline remains more or less the same. Price, connectivity, and timing are the most essential factors. Of course, with COVID-19 hygiene and safety can be added to that list.

In terms of premium positioning, we do have a significant portion of the consumers who aspire to fly business class and premium economy, or even simply experience a full-service airline. As a marketeer, our initiatives revolve around those consumers and their expectations.  We strive to offer some premium and world-class offerings to ensure a luxurious flying experience for them.

For eg., Southeast Asia has been a popular travel destination, and our flat beds in narrow-body aircraft are a great selling point for us to get close to fulfilling this need of the customer. 

Further, consistent efforts such as enhanced personalization enables us to keep up with new entrants and competition in the market while building connect and developing positive sentiments with the brand.

With OOH at vantage points as an important medium for marketing, how do you intend to leverage the medium? What would be your traditional marketing strategy at this time with Print, OOH, Radio amongst the other channels?

As part of our traditional marketing plan, we invest in print, radio, and OOH. For us, OOH is an important medium not only in India but even internationally.

However, a lot of our marketing strategy revolves around digital as it helps us cover the key aspects of our proposition while reaching our target audience.

As part of our media planning, we try to understand the preferences and behavior of our target audience and make decisions on the media vehicles accordingly.

Top 3 airline marketing trends to keep in mind for marketers to stay on top in 2022

  • Keeping your customers at the center of everything a brand does, has always been a key factor that has become even more essential now.
  • Integrating various technologies such as Artificial intelligence into your customer experience aids in humanizing the process.
  • Social listening is a process that allows you to monitor important conversations around your brand while gaining an understanding of your target audience, relevant insights to tailor your marketing initiatives and offerings accordingly.

What will be your marketing mantra for 2022? Would you like to share any suggestions/tips for the marketers for this category?

Our marketing mantra will be to focus on our target audiences and their expectations. Further, we will accelerate our efforts to build our brand equity by continuing to prepare a social media strategy to help us achieve our goals.

Customers and their needs are ever evolving; hence we will stay agile and fluid in our approach and work on initiatives and activities that best suit their expectations.

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Source: Social Samosa

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