Marketing Dreams, Selling the ImpossibleFri, 12/01/2017 - 11:11
To grow in a market, airlines build off previous experience or contract consultants to help them understand the local market. Specialists are on hand to incubate entrant companies or boost ticket sales but beforehand, they have to take the first step into the market. Airlines such as Etihad Airways, Gol Airlines, Liat, Icelandair, Singapore Airlines, Air Berlin and Air New Zealand looked to Mexico as a business opportunity to create new air routes. To be sure there was interest in traveling to Hong Kong, New Zealand or Iceland, they needed to test the water in Mexico first.
Discover the World took the reins to help both budding and established airlines enter the local market. Most of its clients are offline and until they start flying to Mexico, simply planting the idea in a traveler’s head that a certain country is a potential vacation or business destination is difficult. Discover the World’s General Director, Octavio Hernández, faces the challenge of selling tickets to places no one flies to, “selling the impossible,” in his words.
“We work in the local market to make it feasible for our clients to compete with established commercial airlines,” says Hernández. The international sales and marketing representatives of travel-related companies open up new markets that incubator companies may begin to explore subsequently, but not until after Discover the World initially broaches the topic with travelers. Investing their time, energy and money in creating interest in unexplored destinations is a unique task, “and when we accomplish that goal, usually our competitors try to follow in our footsteps,” Hernández says.
While online platforms overtake traditional travel agencies, Discover the World does not see either as competition. “We are not an airline so people often ask why they should purchase from us,” says Hernández. “Online platforms are electronic sources that help clients book a trip but they are not comparable with Discover the World. We need to fill seats but never stop looking out for everyone’s best interests.” People prefer to talk to a local representative rather than someone in an airline’s facilities abroad. Hernández’s team acts as that local representative, often working with new market entrants that have no office in Mexico. This saves travelers time and money that could be lost through miscommunications. One of the latest locations added to the portfolio is southeastern China, home to a language that is not as widely spoken in Mexico as English, for example. Discover the World says signing with Hong Kong-based Cathey Pacific is among its latest achievements and Hernandez ticks off many major airlines among his client-base. “Another client we will take on is Gol Airlines. Philippine Airlines is renewing its contract with us to further increase its visibility in Mexico.”
To reach new customers, companies need to invest in brand recognition. The most successful promotional strategies among budding airlines is directly targeting clients, which can be expensive. A commercial space on television during prime time for one day can cost up to MX$300 million (US$16 million) but this is a sound investment say the marketing experts. Hernández’ team reaches out to final customers by marketing at soccer games and tennis matches among other important sports events. But if its experts perceive better probabilities of success with an advertisement at a supermarket, the team adjusts tactics. “We also manage social media campaigns through which one can reach hundreds of thousands of people,” he says. “Plus, we promote ourselves at corporations that do business all around the world and need to travel frequently.” Cemex, Mexichem, América Móvil and Grupo Bimbo are the largest Mexican international companies and Forbes Mexico says at least 60 percent of each company’s operations are international. The need exists for corporate travel accounts and the potential to reach new destinations is huge, assuming the transport links are created. “Our promotion focuses on telling the public that the destination our clients travel to is fantastic. Then we promote the airline with a clear message that will invite people to travel.”
By 2017, the company had accumulated 25 years refining its technique in Mexico, helping domestic and foreign carriers. Mexican airline Aeroméxico re-entered Bolivia in the first quarter of 2017 and chose Discover the World, which has 65 offices around the world, to help it re-establish a sales presence in the country. Having created interest in a client’s destination, Discover the World’s databases and PR contacts in several cities help airlines spread the word.