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© 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd	 	 Page 1
Starter Guide for Airlines in the
Age of Social Media
AIRLINE CRISIS
COMMUNICATIONS...
!
Contents
!
1. Introduction to crisis communications today	
!
2. Six types of crises airlines need to prepare for:	
!
2.1...
1. Introduction
Airline crises in the age of the Connected Traveller
!
The past year has been a difficult period for the av...
2. Six types of crises
This starter guide for airline crisis communications provides an overview of six different types of...
2.3. Terrorism (real or presumed)
!
This ranges from actual hijackings to any sort of threat against the airline, whether ...
From a communications perspective, Brussels Airport (BRU) and Brussels Airline (BEL) handled the crisis
exceptionally well...
The impact	
!
All flights cancelled: Brussels Airlines had to cancel all its flights when its hub, Brussels Airport, had to ...
3. Five rules
!
Each crisis type has its own unique characteristics that require specific attention and course of
action.To...
About the authors
!
Li Guen Phua heads the communications and marketing functions at
SimpliFlying where she drives corpora...
About SimpliFlying
!
SimpliFlying is a leading consulting firm that specialises in aviation marketing and innovation. 	
!
I...
© 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd	 	 Page 22
© 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd
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Latest as of May 2016, this case-study guide explores 6 airline crisis types to prepare for in this age of social media. Download the full version from http://simpliflying.com/airline-crisis-guide-2016/

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SimpliFlying Crisis Guide 2016 [PREVIEW]

  1. 1. © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 1 Starter Guide for Airlines in the Age of Social Media AIRLINE CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS Updated: May 2016 PREVIEW VERSION
  2. 2. ! Contents ! 1. Introduction to crisis communications today ! 2. Six types of crises airlines need to prepare for: ! 2.1.Accidents. 
 Case study:AirAsia Indonesia QZ8501 crash, 2014 
 2.2. Incidents. 
 Case study: Cathay Pacific, CX884 diversion, 2015 
 2.3.Terrorism. 
 Case study: Brussels airport bombing, 2016 
 2.4. IT malfunctions. 
 Case study: LOT Polish, cancelled flights due to system hack, 2015 
 2.5. Natural disasters. 
 Case study: Cebu Pacific duringTyphoon Haiyan, 2013
 
 2.6. PR disasters. 
 Case study: United Airlines removed autistic teenager, 2015 ! 3. Five rules of effective crisis communications ! 4. About the authors ! ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 2 PREVIEW VERSION
  3. 3. 1. Introduction Airline crises in the age of the Connected Traveller ! The past year has been a difficult period for the aviation industry. Beginning with the AirAsia QZ8501 crash, right up to the recent Brussels attack, an aura of gloom has haunted air travel. ! Crises in this industry come in all shapes and forms, ranging from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to delays and PR mishaps.They share one thing in common: they are unexpected and often catch brands unprepared. ! Furthermore, negativity on social media travels like lightning. Even small aircraft incidents and other contingencies such as missing baggage; a poor check-in experience; or racist staff can spiral out of control and cause serious brand damage. Airlines and airports face a steep learning curve to keep up with passengers’ increasing demands, especially online. ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 3 Airlines crises in recent years that saw social media play a significant role ! ! 2016 • Brussels airport bombings, 22 Mar 2016 (17 casualties, 81 injured; link) ! 2015 • Air Canada AC624 crash, 28 Mar 2015 (22 injured) • *Germanwings 4U 9525 crash, 24 Mar 2015 (150 casualties) • Delta Air Lines DL 1086 crash landing, 5 Mar 2015 (24 injured) • *US Airways US445 smoke-filled cabin, 4 Mar 2015 (3 injured) • *Lion Air two-day network paralysis, 19 Feb 2015 (link) • *TransAsia GE 235 crash, 4 Feb 2015 (43 casualties; link) ! 2014 • *AirAsia Indonesia QZ 8501 crash, 28 Dec 2014 (162 casualties) • Ethiopian Airlines ET702 hijack to Geneva, 17 Feb 2014 • Qantas QF2 emergency landing, 8 December 2014 (link) PREVIEW VERSION
  4. 4. 2. Six types of crises This starter guide for airline crisis communications provides an overview of six different types of crises airlines need to prepare for in today’s “free-for-all” online environment. ! • Accidents • Incidents • Terrorism (real or presumed) • IT malfunctions • Natural disasters • PR disasters ! ! 2.1. Accidents ! The very nature of accidents and incidents differ greatly in aviation terms, so is the emergency planning around each of them. ! Accidents have the widest ranging impact and the severest consequences. As a result, operational and brand recovery typically have a long time horizon (unravelling the causes of the accident, recovery efforts, impact on passengers etc).As a result, the airline finds itself under critical scrutiny from many quarters over the long-term. ! Most crisis communications plans were created before the widespread usage of social media and do not take into account the reaction of the public at large. ! Airline crisis communications for accidents should happen on two fronts: ! • Social Media: Response plans must be activated quickly so that the general public and media receive authentic and regular updates from an official source. ! • Corporate Communications:The department must work closely with Social Media teams to ensure a single, coherent communications strategy ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 4 PREVIEW VERSION
  5. 5. 2.3. Terrorism (real or presumed) ! This ranges from actual hijackings to any sort of threat against the airline, whether real or presumed, that may affect the airline operations in any way. ! From a communications standpoint, such crises are not very different from accidents and incidents but have an additional security component that can affect the way in which the airline or airport communicates. ! Do’s and don’ts ! • Questions that can be expected from the public on social media include: - I heard onTV that one of your planes has a bomb threat. Is it true? - My son/ daughter/ friend was travelling to LAX this morning. Can you confirm if he is safe? - I’m booked to fly with you tomorrow but there’s no way I’ll fly after this. Please cancel my reservation. - Why are you not saying anything? / What is taking your airline so long to tell us what is happening? - I’m also flying out of LAX today. Is my flight cancelled?There is no news on this on your website or social media page. ! • The airline may need to work with the airport and police authorities to provide information. When posting on social media, the airline should re-share information from these official sources where relevant. ! • People will panic. As such it will be important to inform passengers of any extra security measures that are being taken. For example, passengers heading to the airport may need to get there earlier due to tighter security checks that may take longer than usual. ! ! ! CrisisType:Terrorism Case study: Brussels airport bombing, 2015 (11 casualties) ! What happened ! On 22 March 2016, at about 07:00 GMT, two explosions went off at the Zaventem airport in Brussels. At least 11 people were killed and hundreds were injured. All flights from the airport were cancelled. The airport was closed for almost two weeks before re-opening. ! On social media, images of smoke from the explosion appeared on Twitter even before people started evacuating the airport.This was then followed by pictures of the evacuation and the first news report on Twitter.All these appeared on Twitter within 30 minutes of the explosion at the airport. ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 9 PREVIEW VERSION
  6. 6. From a communications perspective, Brussels Airport (BRU) and Brussels Airline (BEL) handled the crisis exceptionally well. ! The following timeline shows the sequence of key updates and activities that panned out on social media. ! T+0 Estimated time of explosions at 07:00 GMT on the 22nd of March T+8 minThe first tweet comes from a person outside the airport who reports he has heard a loud explosion and has spotted smoke. T+11minThe first image of people being evacuated from the airport appears onTwitter. T+31 min Eurocontrol sends out first tweet - "Brussels airport unavailable until further notice”. T+41 min Brussels Airport (BRU) confirms explosions and evacuation onTwitter. This post has been retweeted 8,600 times. T+51 min Brussels Airlines (BEL) confirms news of explosions and airport closure on Facebook and Twitter T+1h 15 min BRU tweets to ask passengers inside the airport to stay calm. T+1h 45 min BRU tweets regarding activation of an emergency phone number. T+1h 46 min BRU informs that it will be closed until at least six in the morning. T+2h 28 min BRU tweets to update that all passengers who had been stuck in the piers have been evacuated. T+2h 34 min BRU's CEO tweets from his personal account in three languages to express solidarity. T+2h 34 min BRU changes its Facebook andTwitter profiles to a sombre version T+2h 54 min BEL provides rebooking link on Facebook T+3h Facebook safety check feature is active T+3h 4 min BEL switches to grey profile image and uses both the cover image and its description to inform people and direct them to its website T+4h 40 min BRU invites people to use Facebook's safety check feature. T+6h 16min BEL’s CEO posts a statement on LinkedIn. T+7h 35 min BRU issues the first official statement. T+9h 13 min BEL post an update on Facebook to inform customers that its call centre is currently overloaded ! ! ! ! 
 © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 10 Above left: The first tweet from Brussels Airport about the explosions, warning the public to stay away.This has been retweeted more than 8,600 times. Above right: A message posted by Brussels Airlines CEO on LinkedIn to express solidarity. !!! PREVIEW VERSION
  7. 7. The impact ! All flights cancelled: Brussels Airlines had to cancel all its flights when its hub, Brussels Airport, had to be closed.When the closure extended, the airline had to find alternatives such as operating regional flights from nearby airports and long-haul flights from places like Frankfurt. ! Airport partner: Brussels Airport was transparent in its communications and exceptionally quick on Twitter and Facebook.This helped them become the reference point for both the media and the public whenever anyone needed the latest information.They even provided live-streaming of the media briefing. The airport’s active crisis communications proved extremely crucial for Brussels Airlines and other affected airlines that needed to provide important updates to their passengers. ! CEOs on the front-line: Instead of waiting for the first press release to go out, the CEOs of Brussels Airlines and Brussels Airport stepped up to share their personal thoughts and condolences.This helped add credibility and add a human touch to the corporate brands. ! Customer service: Normally, the one-man social media team at Brussels Airlines can handle 300 messages a day.When the crisis happened, the airline was overwhelmed with 2,700 messages on the first day; 4,000 on the second day; and over 5,000 on the third day. Staff from other departments chipped in, and the airline saw 45 people answering messages on social media in Brussels, with additional support from SWISS’s team in Fiji that helped handle night-time calls. ! ! ! ! ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 11 DID YOU KNOW? Since Brussels Airlines and SWISS are part of the Lufthansa group, they were able to collaborate. ! Brussels Airlines provided the SWISS call centre team the same templates used by their home-team and even purchased additional tool licenses so that SWISS could access its system. ! Read our article about their collaboration in detail here: bit.ly/1VHXGMH PREVIEW VERSION
  8. 8. 3. Five rules ! Each crisis type has its own unique characteristics that require specific attention and course of action.To provide airlines with a general rule of thumb, here are five guidelines for effective crisis communications in the age of the ConnectedTraveller. ! 1. Acknowledge as quickly as you can that you know something has gone wrong. 2. Establish official channels / pages where people can regularly seek updated information. 3. Quickly source accurate information and share it transparently, without corporate speak or legalese. 4. Keep an eye out for rumours and quash them sooner rather than later. 5. Follow-up is critical. A single, quick statement within two minutes is useless unless you follow up regularly with updates, displaying your commitment to the cause. 
 © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 19 ! Understanding more: SimpliFlying Training ! As we learned in this starter guide, airlines are more likely to hear about crises from Facebook orTwitter before hearing from an internal source. ! To help airline executives become better prepared for crises, SimpliFlying has prepared a unique curriculum comprising over 20 case studies, high-level discussions and interactive simulation exercises. ! GENERAL SYLLABUS - Introduction: Understanding the SocialTraveller Lifecycle - Anatomy of A Crisis: 3 Elements - Real-World Airline Case Studies - 5 Rules of Crisis Communications - Techniques for Monitoring Social Media - Group Exercises: Simulations and Insights Exchange ! Explore more to see how we can customise to your airline’s specific needs. Please contact us at training@simpliflying.com or check out SimpliFlyingTraining page www.simpliflying.com/ training/ ! Airlines that have attended SimpliFlyingTraining include: PREVIEW VERSION
  9. 9. About the authors ! Li Guen Phua heads the communications and marketing functions at SimpliFlying where she drives corporate branding efforts and industry research initiatives. She also manages consulting projects for airline clients, and leads industry research initiatives to further SimpliFlying's though leadership in the aviation marketing and innovation. ! Li Guen was previously at a public relations consultant at Weber Shandwick Singapore and had worked with clients including Rolls- Royce, Changi Airport Group and Procter & Gamble. ! She graduated from Singapore Management University (BBM) with business majors in Corporate Communications and Marketing. Adventure-loving and always seeking new challenges, Li Guen likes chess, reading and hiking.You can reach her at guen@simpliflying.com ! Marco Serusi is Senior Consultant at SimpliFlying, and has worked on major client projects with the likes of LATAM Airlines, London Heathrow and Royal Brunei Airlines. He has also delivered training in digital aviation strategy for over 200 executives globally and spoken at several aviation conferences worldwide. He is well known for his cutting edge research into the latest aviation marketing and social media trends. Serusi started his career in aviation after graduating in AirTransport and completing his MBA with a specialisation in marketing. He is Italian who also speaks Spanish and English fluently and has lived in several countries including the UK, USA, Italy and Spain. He has been with SimpliFlying for over 4 years.You can reach him at marco@simpliflying.com ! ! ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 20
  10. 10. About SimpliFlying ! SimpliFlying is a leading consulting firm that specialises in aviation marketing and innovation. ! It is one of the largest in the world, having worked with over 70 airlines and airports globally. Headquartered in Singapore, we have presences in Canada, Spain and India. ! What SimpliFlying offers – consulting, training and reports – is derived from insights derived while working deeply within the industry.The team intensively researches trends, question assumptions and apply them to the realities of the aviation industry. ! SimpliFlying’s growing list of clients includes American Airlines,Turkish Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier andToronto Pearson Airport. ! For more information, please go to www.simpliflying.com ! ! © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 21 © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd
  11. 11. © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd Page 22 © 2016 SimpliFlying Pte. Ltd PREVIEW VERSION

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