Friday, October 2, 2009

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - BA MESSAGE TAKES FLIGHT

Veritas Team Huddle compiled by Whitney Shanfield

Two colleagues and I recently had the pleasure of flying roundtrip from Toronto to Ireland on a British Airways flight. We were highly impressed with the airline’s communication tactics and attention to detail at every touch-point. The flight attendants were a model for professionalism, our lunchbox told us the historical origin of ‘the sandwich,’ in-flight recycling efforts were communicated on meal containers, and the CSR program (a great fit for the airline) was well-articulated through a simple friendly announcement prior to landing.
On Tuesday, the airline announced the launch of a new service that would further set it apart from its competitors; an all-business-class service from London to New York that features 32 fully flat beds, and for the first time for BA, passengers can send emails, texts and use the internet from the air. The announcement was made via a press conference at London City airport, followed by an inaugural flight for members of the travel media. Not surprisingly, the announcement was picked up by international media. Also not surprisingly for an announcement of this scale in a troubled economic environment, it was met by a mix of both excitement and criticism. Critics questioned the business-only model, said to have caused the failure of three airlines. Environmentalists argued that the service will create three times the emissions per traveler of regular flights. Despite an abundance of challenging questions from the media, BA chief executive Willie Walsh made himself available. And in keeping with BA’s record of transparency, accountability and innovation, Walsh acknowledged challenges, and answered questions with confidence, positivity and facts to back up the airline’s economic and environmental positions. At Veritas, we encourage our media coaching students to always consider the audience with whom they are speaking. We feel British Airways deserves a Touchdown for appropriately managing a message with multiple stakeholders, providing just the right mix of excitement and realism.

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