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Marketing for Travel and Tourism: Analysis, Research, Facts

Let me start by disclosing two things :

One, I’m addicted to travel. In fact, I opted to write this article just because I’m that passionate about it.

Two, flying in particularly, I find fascinating. Hurling these giant metal objects with hundreds of people being hurled hundreds of miles per hour and 37,000 ft and all to wake up safe and soundly in a new continent — still amazing to me.

Over the past couple of years, due to oil prices, mergers of major airlines and even bag fees has been big money (or lack thereof) and of course affecting passengers. The good news: these changes also allow for airlines to rebrand, reposition themselves as they fight for customers and particularly, loyal customers.

Below is a list of the largest airline carriers (with United now being #1 with their merger this year with Continental Airlines). Delta led the way with its merger with Northwest Airlines and even as recent merger is with Southwest Airlines acquiring AirTran.









1 Delta Air Lines1


161,049,000 106,070,000 72,900,000 73,584,000 86,007,000 [3]
2 United Airlines2


81,421,000 86,412,000 68,400,000 69,265,000 66,717,000 [4]
3 Southwest Airlines3


101,339,000 101,921,000 101,911,000 96,277,000 88,380,000 [5]
4 American Airlines


85,719,000 92,772,000 98,162,000 99,835,000 98,038,000 [6]
5 Lufthansa4


76,543,000 70,543,000 66,100,000 53,400,000 51,300,000 [7]
6 China Southern Airlines


66,280,000 57,961,000 56,900,000 48,512,000 43,228,000 [8]
7 Ryanair


65,300,000 57,647,000 49,030,000 40,532,000 33,368,585 [9]
8 Air France-KLM5


71,394,000 73,844,000 74,795,000 73,484,000 70,015,000 [10]
9 China Eastern Airlines


44,042,990 37,231,480 39,161,400 35,039,700 24,290,500 [11]
10 US Airways


58,921,521 62,659,842 66,056,374 66,102,774 71,580,012 [12]
11 International Airlines(British Airways + Iberia)


56,700,000 56,400,000 59,800,000 60,900,000 n/a [13]

In terms of marketing and branding with Delta’s and NWA’s merger, many new marketing campaigns were rolled out — online, TV, billboards, subways, buses and more — reinstating Delta’s new size, market share and its desire to “Keep Climbing.” Soon after the United Continental merger happened, Delta couldn’t flex its size anymore since United Continental eclipsed them, so they’re now focusing their brand positioning as “Building A Better Airline, Not Just A Bigger One” — attempting to differentiate themselves from other airlines, such as United Continental.


Let’s talk baggage. No, I’m not talking about your ex that still haunts you, I’m talking about airline baggage charges. Due to economic hardship for the airlines with fuel prices continuing to climb, airlines are trying to offset some costs. “U.S. airlines collected $3.4 billion for checked luggage last year in 2010. That’s up 24 percent from 2009 and a big reason the industry made money again after three years of losses. In 2010, the major airlines made a combined $2.6 billion in profits, less than they collected in bag fees. The fees — typically $50 round-trip for the first piece of checked luggage and $70 for the second — allow the industry to navigate between rising fuel costs and customers who expect rock-bottom airfares.

If it weren’t for the fees, the airlines would most likely be losing money,” said Jim Corridore, airline analyst with Standard & Poor’s.”

So how does baggage charges tie into marketing? One of the single biggest messages that JetBlue Airlines pushing in their marketing efforts is “No first Bag fee” which invokes this theme that JetBlue doesn’t want to Nickel-and-dime it’s passengers. Beyond JetBlue, almost all airlines have direct mail pieces which highlights incentives for flier to be loyal and obtain status which allows them free bags and more.


Ultimately, the airline business is completive and it’s vital for airlines to make sure their branding and positioning is current while continuing to understand the emotional element of it — using air travel to see family, make business deals, explore the worked and to find ourselves.

Below is personal photos from flying to Vancouver, BC and the other flying out of LAX. Wheels up!





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