With the global pandemic having a huge impact on the travel and tourism industry, restricting our ability to travel freely or for recreational purposes, it was interesting to see how brands adapted to such changes.
With many airlines accepting defeat, Qantas Airlines used it as an opportunity to do something that little bit different, which is why I doff my cap.
Because of the circumstances, Qantas were forced to reimagine what their product offering was. Originally it was, of course, to take people from A to B. They are a destination provider, a form of transit.
However, due to the pandemic, which still has a grip on the world, travel fanatics and holidaymakers are restricted in their ability to travel, quashing the original need for that product.
Rather than be totally defeated, Qantas decided to reinvent their services. Equipped with the knowledge that people enjoy the flight, the environment and the experience that it provides its passengers, as well as the obvious desperation to escape the confinement of their homes, Qantas launched “The Flight to Nowhere”.
Reigniting the experience economy
It was clear to Qantas that they needed to do something – not only to keep their customers loyal and engaged with their brand, but to keep the business operating in extremely quiet and unprecedented times.
With this in mind, they thought “let’s make ourselves a flying restaurant rather than a transit provider” and “let’s recreate ourselves as providers of sightseeing opportunities”.
And it was this very vision that brought “The Flight to Nowhere” idea to life.
Allowing passengers to travel on board a Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the flight operated for around eight hours, allowed Australians to escape Sydney and experience the views from the Australian skies.
The flight took off from Sydney on October 10th 2020 and flew over the Australian metropolis, taking in sites from Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, through to the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, before landing back exactly where it had departed from.
Just like with a normal flight, passengers had the option to purchase different classes of tickets, with prices ranging between $575 and $2,765 with social distancing measures ensured throughout its entirety.
Qantas and its “Flight to Nowhere” is proof that people pay for an experience and not just the end result, which is one of the reasons I doff my cap.
Taking a risk
To be successful, brands need to be able to adapt and take risks.
As tempting as it is to sit back in relevant comfort, and enjoy your current successes as a brand, it can be difficult to further your achievements without taking somewhat of a leap of faith.
And as the saying goes, “nothing changes, if nothing changes”, which is rather apt for this campaign.
If it weren’t for this brave, albeit risky change in product offering, who knows where Qantas would be now, or rather, wouldn’t be.
This was a courageous move from Qantas, with uncertainty over the potential demand. However, the proof was in the pudding as tickets sold out in a matter of 10 minutes, clearly demonstrating people’s needs to experience something different and new in an otherwise stagnant world.
As well as this, Qantas’ “Flight to Nowhere” will go down as one of the fastest-selling flights in airline history, another great way of establishing their brand name in difficult times.
It wasn’t without controversy
Of course, as with any bold new project from a brand, there was some controversary. Yes, it received some bad press, and of course, the flight may not have necessarily lived up to the expectations of the 150 hopeful passengers due to the cloudy conditions, however, that isn’t to say that this wasn’t still a great success overall.
Qantas cannot control COVID-19, nor can they control the weather and the movement of clouds. What they are in control of, is the fact that they could reimagine their product offering to create a one-off, unique opportunity for frustrated people that wanted to experience something different.
To me, that is the very essence of an entrepreneurial business – to be able to find new avenues and angles as they present themselves or to overcome challenges as they arise. For all of those reasons, the Qantas “Flight to Nowhere” was a hugely creative, insightful, and entrepreneurial move for the brand.
In order to survive, brands need to be brave and not focus on the “what if”. Qantas’ decision to do something different created a huge amount of press and, in turn, resulted in mass amounts of brand awareness globally, delivering millions of dollars' worth of brand exposure for free in the process.
Whether it was a PR stunt, or whether Qantas simply, yet cleverly altered the use of their product offering and its assets to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, it was a truly fantastic concept.
To Qantas, its ability to take risks, turning their focus to adapt to newfound consumer needs and providing a unique, once in a lifetime experience while delivering millions of dollars’ worth of free brand publicity, I doff my cap.