Airline industry is a highly competitive one. There are many players and services provided are similar.
It is good to give examples. Look at O.R. Tambo International Airport.
You will find a number of airlines around the airport.
These include but not limited to Air Namibia, Air Botswana, South African Airways, British Airways, Kenyan Airways and Lufthansa.
They all provide air transport to their respective customers.
The industry is faced with challenges and these include high cost of fuel and alternative forms of transport.
If one does not want to fly, there are other forms that are available including road transport.
It must be noted that some challenges are within control of management while others are beyond control of management.
There are various ways to address controllable challenges.
These measures include promotion, which is part of marketing mix and differentiation, which is one of industry strategies from a micro-environment standpoint.
With the above in mind, I can now move to the crux of this article. I was on my way home from Gaborone via Johannesburg on 24 May 2013 after attending a three days regional conference in the capital city of Botswana. As normally the case, I had to follow initial formalities before proceeding to passport control area.
When I approached the immigration official at the international airport in Botswana, he asked me a question.
“Where are you going?” I responded as per my air ticket. He thereafter made an observation and I would like to paraphrase it here.
“Air Namibia has just left directly to Windhoek and I doubt if there was more than 10 passengers in the plane.
It appears that there is no enough marketing being done to make the route known to customers”.
I noted the observation and promised to relay the message – hence this article. We did not go further with the discussion as people queued behind me.
While waiting to board a plane to Johannesburg, I remembered being advised few days ago that the airline only services Windhoek and Gaborone route few times a week and the last flights to be end of May 2013. Consequently, I linked the preceding factors to low occupancy level and found that there is indeed a positive correlation.
The flight schedule of the airline published on page 14 of the Windhoek Observer dated 24-30 May 2013 does not include Windhoek-Gaborone route implying that the route is no longer being promoted.
Once again, the correlation is positive.
What inference can be made from the above? Promotion is vital in a competitive industry as it can be used to draw customers from competitors providing similar services.
This is so for local, regional and international routes. In so doing, air transport can be a real substitute to other services that are there in the market.