Airlines Crowdsource New Products with the General Public
Airlines are using crowdsourcing contests to discover new ideas and see if they’ll fly.
Emirates, United Arab Emirates
Crowdsourcing with customers is not only smart PR, but it can also save a company large sums of money as it doesn’t have to engage employees in endless rounds of meetings to come up with ideas and initiatives; the crowd can do it for them and it can also select the best ones.
This is something that airlines have been aware of for some time as they have tapped into the crowd to come up with a range of in-flight accessories such as designing eye masks, loyalty cards, and even in-flight snacks. They are using social media and their own websites to co-create their brands with consumers.
Early adopters of crowdsourcing included KLM and Virgin Atlantic and they were followed by Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, and Emirates amongst others.
Emirates Launch Crowdsourcing Competition
In 2010 Emirates launched the first edition of its ‘Our Future Artists’ competition where it asked artists all over the world to submit artwork ideas for the 2011 membership cards of its frequent flyer program called ‘Skywards’.
The program has three levels and submissions had to reflect and interpret the appropriate mood for each level. So the Gold tier had to be ‘luxurious, elite and precious’; ‘sophistication, intelligence and richness’ was required for the Silver tier, and ‘bold, visionary and modern’ for the Blue level.
Participants were encouraged to use any style and medium of art including paintings, photography and sculptures.
The response to this crowdsourcing contest was stunning with more than 3,500 entries and over 50,000 votes. Submissions were judged by a panel of four industry experts who created a shortlist of four entries for each membership level. The final decisive votes went to Skywards members.
Winners Voted on by the Crowd
The winning artists were:
1) Nedim Kufi from the Netherlands for the Gold card, a 3-D computer generated image of gold nuggets
2) Amir Vafaei from Iran for Silver, for a sculpture of Turkoman rugs
3) Kambiz Sabri, also from Iran won the Blue card design for a sculpture of large raindrops surrounded by a cube.
Each winner received a check for USD $5,000 as well as a trip to Dubai to see their portfolios on display at the prestigious Art Dubai fair. In addition to the financial reward the artists achieved global recognition as more than five million membership cards were distributed across the world. And such was the success of the contest that Emirates is going to continue with it in subsequent years.
What Else can be Crowdsourced?
Airlines enjoy other benefits by teaming up with the general public such as being given valuable insights into what consumers are thinking, without having to conduct expensive market research programs. The fruits of these initiatives could convince airline bosses to open the floodgates for crowdsourcing to be adopted in other parts of the industry.
Like other industries it is struggling in the global financial climate and new thinking could be brought to bear on some of the issues that plague it such as high fuel costs and taxes, expensive landing fees and selling too few seats at too low a price. If airline bosses loosen the reigns and let the crowd in they may find some of the answers they are looking for.
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