Cathay Pacific has been performing strongly across social media thanks to popular hashtag campaigns supported by beautiful images. The brand has managed success using simple and relatable ideas, that are easy for customers engage with. The airline’s results have been impressive, and their team makes it look easy with social profiles full of interactions from passionate travellers.
Dennis Owen is the Group Manager at Cathay Pacific Airways, he spoke to us about the success of their campaigns and how the brand is looking to grow their social channels for customer care and communication over the next 12 months.
What do you personally appreciate about social media as a medium?
Most definitely I like the fact that it’s a two way conversation. You know right away what someone thinks about a particular campaign or new product or service. And I also like the fact that our fans share our content with their friends.
It is always seen as more authentic having someone speak on behalf of the brand in a positive way vs. the brand itself.
We want to help our customers travel well as part of Life Well Travelled. In terms of content we try to provide content that’s not “just” about Cathay Pacific or Dragonair”. We also provide content that is useful to our customer base, such as tips on staying healthy while travelling, or perhaps the latest new restaurant opening in Hong Kong that has a private room for business dinners.
How are you adapting to the habits of customers communicating with you on social media?
We strive to be reactive in a timely manner as best we can when our customers reach out to us. That’s not always easy to do as we aren’t yet at 24/7 in terms of social media. However, we expect that to change in 2016 and our goal is to have our social media interactions to be around the clock and reflective of a premium carrier.
What standards have you set in dealing with customer tweets, posts and direct messages?
In terms of tone we want to ensure that we are responding in a way that reflects Cathay Pacific as a premium brand, but also in a personal, friendly tone. We are working on deeper standards for when we go to a 24/7 response with more than just one or two people handling the incoming questions. That is a work in progress.
Is there a clear segmentation in the types of messages you receive? How does it break down usually?
Yes, for Twitter the majority of the incoming messages are around customer service related questions, comments and compliments.
For Facebook you do get some customer service related questions but not as many as Twitter. And many of the comments are reactions to posts that we highlight, such as reactions to a new product or service like our newly announced Madrid service next year.
LinkedIn incoming posts are mostly reactions to our posts as well. These posts tend to be very corporate focused because of the audience. Here you might see updates on our new lounges such as The Pier, or again new destinations frequented by business travellers and comments around those posts.
Do you think social media is becoming the preferred method of communication for customers in your experience with Cathay Pacific?
I wouldn’t say it’s the preferred way to communicate as email and phone are still quite high, but that’s going to change over time most likely.
Social media is certainly growing in scope in terms of how our customers wish to communicate with us, particularly with the millennial generation, and we want to be able to provide better service around social customer service in the future. We are currently working towards that goal.
Life Well Travelled centres on the fact that we believe that travelling well is important to living well. And the campaign has certainly caught on with our influencers and audiences in general. We have nearly 125,000 images that have been posted on Instagram which I think is quite impressive. It takes some time and thought for our fans to share like that so that tells us that Life Well Travelled is resonating. And it’s very interesting to see visually what Life Well Travelled means to different audiences.
The 3 Life Well Travelled videos created have been successful as well. These videos focused on 3 specific audiences, “The Road Warrior”, our true frequent travellers, “The Family”, which focused on leisure travel and “Miss Adventure”, reaching out to the millennial generation. There have been nearly 3 million views via our Facebook and YouTube channels to date.
#onedayoffline is very much tied to Life Well Travelled in the belief that you occasionally should go offline to experience the memorable real-world moments that make journeys more memorable. This campaign has just been launched so it’s a bit early to measure metrics but based on the number of pledges from our own staff and our home market in Hong Kong I would say it’s off to a good start.
#lifewelltravelled is so successful will it be a permanent feature of the brand online?
You will definitely see the Life Well Travelled platform for many years. It’s the over-arching theme to anything we plan to offer to our customers, whether it is via products, services, design or our people.
#onedayoffline is doing well, have you found a formula?
It’s early days for the #onedayoffline campaign but we do feel that it resonates and sits quite well under the over-arching Life Well Travelled platform.
Cathay Pacific has used the Klout score in a campaign, what’s your opinion on the significance of the score for growing your brand’s reach?
Klout scores are one of many ways that we potentially reach out to our influencers to expand brand reach. However, we would only look at that in conjunction with other attributes, such as audience base, emphasis towards travel, and things that relate well to the Cathay Pacific/Dragonair brands.
What’s your professional prediction for the next shift in social media?
That’s a tough one as social media is always shifting, always evolving and could go a variety of directions. But I would venture to say that whatever it is will have something to do with the emphasis more towards visual imagery and/or video.
I also think it’s just a matter of time before you see more app options around social customer service. The chatter is there about apps like WeChat and WhatsApp, but we haven’t seen that come to fruition just yet, but stay tuned on that one.
Thanks to Dennis Owen for his time in chatting with us, you can follow him on Twitter here.