So I was quietly making my way to the office from the train station Friday morning and a little bloke came up from behind me, swung around and said, “Stop shoving your war support in my face!”
Apparently by wearing a Remembrance Day red poppy to show my support of all those who have fallen or suffered for Australia’s cause in war and armed conflict, I have offended this man.
He is entitled to his view, me to mine.
At 11am on 11 November 1918 the guns of Europe’s Western Front fell silent after more than four years of fighting. Since that time, 11am on 11 November has become a time to stop, reflect and remember all those who have died or been injured as a result of war.
I looked in quiet dismay at the stories running through the news sites and found those focused on what’s most important to me on 11/11 were not those most important to others. And then I saw this and felt sad:
You bought a poppy but do you really care?
Yes I care and very much so. I don’t care for war, but I care for freedom and justice and I care very much for the fabulous country that is Australia. I care deeply for those so brave people that lost their lives for my care of freedom and justice.
So I took one minute to be silent at 11am and I will wear my poppy proudly this day and every year going forward.
That little man may well chose to do otherwise.
Virgin Australia – The Knight in Shining Armour
Over the weekend, Qantas took an unprecedented step in grounding its entire fleet due to industrial action, a move that affects 68,000 passengers a day. With tens of thousands of travellers stranded in Australia – and world-wide – the Australian aviation industry is in chaos. Well, all but one airline.
Virgin Australia has coolly stepped up to the challenge of filling the void left by Qantas’ grounded flights. Amazingly, Virgin Australia isn’t being seen as one company capitalising on the misfortune of another, rather as a knight in shining armour. How did they manage this feat?
Well, for starters, they aren’t charging the exorbitant fees that they could. Virgin Australia isn’t cashing in on people’s desperation by shooting prices through the roof. In fact, they are offering a 20% discount on VA saver fares to Qantas-stranded passengers. So far, this offer has been taken up by over 22,000 stranded Qantas passengers.
Secondly, Virgin Australia is doing the vast majority of heavy lifting, in terms of picking up the slack. So far, Jetstar has added one extra daily flight, and Strategic Airlines is also putting on an extra flight. In comparison, Virgin Australia added an extra 4,500 seats on Sunday the 30th of October, with an extra 40,000 seats added over the next couple of months to help cope. As a Virgin Australia spokeswoman said of the extra services:
“There will be extra revenue, but there will also be significant costs for our airline in doing all these things. Our main priority is to help the passengers that are stranded… and to keep Australians moving around the country”.
These actions have secured Virgin Australia unparalleled positive coverage across all major Australian and international media outlets. The flow-on effect of Virgin’s actions throughout this debacle has also seen their shares jump to a 10-month high, whilst Qantas’ share price has gone through tough times.
The most interesting aspect of this is that Virgin Australia hasn’t been reaching out to media to communicate all of this. Instead, updates and announcements (such as the reduced fares for stranded passengers) have been released via Facebook and Twitter. Virgin Australia has actively been engaging with its customers via direct channels, allowing timely and tailored responses.
This calm, professional, crisis-control tone that Virgin Australia has employed across all its communications has inspired trust in the brand that was once seen as the cheeky underdog. Now positioned as a challenger brand for Qantas, it is important for Virgin Australia to encourage trial. A lot of Qantas passengers who would not have tried the revised, revamped Virgin Australia are now going to be exposed to it, and potentially move their allegiances permanently.
This situation has highlighted the importance of businesses being upfront and reactive to the market. Virgin Australia did not just sit back and let stranded passengers come to them; nor did it hike its prices up to make the most of the situation. Instead, it lent a helping hand to those in need, without neglecting the needs of its existing passengers. By actively engaging with media and consumers, Virgin Australia’s reputation has been solidified in the Australian public’s mind as a trustworthy, helpful brand.