In today’s age no matter how dominant you are in the market, success is not guaranteed as the media crushes the business at any given opportunity and the margin for error is nil.
However, Qatar Airways has still managed to maintain its ground despite crisis in the region. Here’s how they did it:
Brand building today equals resilience tomorrow
BrandsEye conducted a sentiment analysis of major airlines in the Middle East between March and May 2017. The analysis studied over half a million mentions in both English and Arabic over the period. For the study, passengers’ perceptions of a variety of factors (including in-flight service, baggage handling, aesthetics, ethics and affordability amongst others) were assessed.
Sentiment topic comparison of Middle East airlines, March 1– May 30
Qatar Airways was the best overall performer in spite of strong competition, however, it still had to deal with a few negative external factors. Even the travel ban imposed by the US on six Muslim-majority nations and electronic device restrictions affecting direct flights from the Middle East to the US did not help the cause.
Impact of political crisis on the brand
Qatar Airways had a severe effect of the crisis as there were many cancellations of flights and closure of offices in the certain Middle East locations. In order to assess the impact of this event, the original BrandsEye study period was extended.
First 48 hours
The airlines saw a big drop in positive sentiment when the crisis broke out and issues like flight cancellations and rerouting, a lack of clarity regarding refunds and the levying of penalties caused increased customer frustration.
Having hovered at a healthy 36% on June 4 based on daily sentiment analysis, positive sentiment dropped to 4% by 5 June. Negative sentiment, by contrast, peaked at 33% on 6 June.
However, within 48 hours the trend started to change within 48 hours as steps were taken to deal with the fallout. Due to both the airline’s rapid response to customer complaints and the buoyancy of its reputation, negative sentiment for the month of June remained fairly consistent at 13% up from its three-month average of 9%. During the same period, positive sentiment dropped from 44% to 34%.
Positive reputation reinforces a strong brand
Qatar Airways’ reputation played a major role in minimizing the damage and it also ensured the brand resilience amid crisis.