Digital Marketing ‑ Etihad

free essayTechnological advancement, which has facilitated the Internet technology, has revolutionized various industries, in particular digital marketing. It refers to the process of businesses promoting their products and brands through one or more forms of electronic media. The Internet has become the closest channel associated with this new marketing trend. However, it is not limited to Internet platforms, such as websites and social networking, but it rather incorporates non-Internet media, which have the ability to provide digital marketing to businesses. Such media include sending SMS and MMS via mobile phones. One of the industries that have become revolutionized this way is the airline industry. In this regard, digital marketing has been used by airline companies in the process of developing marketing concepts, which are necessary in creating competitive advantage. For an airline company, such as Etihad Airways, digital marketing has been essential in aiding it in developing e-booking technology, which has caused transition from offline to online booking.

This study is conducted considering with the following objectives:

  • To gain understanding of the development of digital marketing in the airline industry by evaluating transition from offline to online booking by using Etihad Airways as a yard stick.
  • To gain understanding of consumers’ perception of online booking and their demand for it.
  • To get an idea of the relevance of online airline booking implementation and the overall digital marketing.

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Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has been instrumental in aiding airline companies in the process of transition from offline to online booking. According to Corley, Jourdan, and Ingram (2013), online booking has become widely used by airline companies in the recent times. Today, consumers are able to make, confirm or cancel bookings while staying at home. They are equally able to pay for their reservations online. Initially, ticket booking used to be done through offline channels. Cheung and Lam (2010) provide an example of booking in person when an individual plans to take a flight. In this regard, a person would call either an airline company or a travel agency in order to make flight reservation. On the other hand, a person wishing to travel would be required to make across-the-counter booking, i.e. visiting a specific airline company or travel agency to book the ticket as well as pay for the flight. The transaction is similar to across-the-counter bank transactions. In addition, offline booking makes use of traditional payment means like cash. However, with the widespread use of online reservation services, online booking can be possible.

Consumer Demand

Consumers’ demand for online booking has been steadily increasing due to the popularity of Internet technology. With the introduction of online booking, the days of in-person and across-the-counter booking have gradually been forgotten. According to Haensel, Koole, and Erdman (2011), consumers’ demand for online booking can be explained by the fact that it provides them with an opportunity to compare ticket prices and flight routes on various airlines through use of online booking sites. The fact that they are able to make reservations with just a click of a mouse or a simple selection of commands on their tablets and smartphones has caused many consumers to embrace online booking.

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Growth in e-Booking

The growth in e-booking has been driven by such factors as increased levels of competition because of globalization and the increased customers’ demand and expectations as a result of customers becoming more knowledgeable and thus more accustomed to automated technology. Molchanov (2014) opines that the growth of e-booking is steadily increasing as they are mostly made via mobile devices and tablets. Consumers are thus interested in airline websites, whose interface can be supported on these devices.

Relevance of Digital Marketing to Consumers

The relevance of digital marketing to consumers proves to be diverse. Yasmin and Tasneem (2015) assert, it is this relevance that has pushed many of them to shift to online booking. Thus, the importance of online booking has been supported by the advantages it brings to consumers. First, consumers are able to make instant payments for their flight reservations. They are also able to receive immediate guarantee of their bookings. Second, the lack of administrator participation has been well received on the basis that most customers find them unnecessary and rather annoying to interact with. Third, the system works 24 hours 7 days a week unlike offline booking mechanisms.

Relevance of Implementing Online Airline Booking in GCC and the UAE

The implementation of online airline booking in GCC and in the UAE has proven to be particularly relevant. First, given that it is the age of globalization and digital technology, the onset of airline booking has helped to open the UAE’s airline industry to the rest of the world. Besides, online airline booking has enabled the UAE’s airline industry to gain a competitive advantage, which has seen its position in the market grow rapidly. Airline booking has equally proven to be advantageous for the Arab region as it has been essential in introducing numerous business opportunities. Melodona, Payyazhi, and Ian (2011) opine that business has been growing at a tremendously impressive rate in the UAE. Given that the UAE’s airline industry has adapted to online booking, it has been essential in encouraging entrepreneurs to travel to the region in a bid to expand their business portfolio.

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Realizing the Objectives of the Study

Etihad’s Perception

Etihad’s perception of online booking has been positive as the airline company perceives the digitalized online booking process advantageous to its overall travel business. One reason for this positive perception is the cost advantage the company is receiving. This is because online booking has enabled it to sale its tickets in a manner that has proven to be cheaper. Corley, Jourdan, and Ingram (2013) observe that online business operations eliminate the need to employ extra personnel to help customers understand the offers at hand. Another reason for the company’s positive perception is that it has allowed the company to develop marketing strategies that are more customer-focused. For instance, the airline uses its online booking platform to attract customer interest to its other services. Further on, the use of online booking has been essential in reducing intermediaries.

Reasons for Consumers not to Prefer Online Business

The age of online business has not been completely received with enthusiasm, since there is a segment of consumers who are skeptical. As a consequence, many of them prefer not to use online business platforms. One significant reason for this refusal is that online business is highly susceptible to informational theft and the lack of confidentiality. According to Yasmin and Tasneem (2015), online business transactions are more vulnerable due to cybercrime, e.g. hacks, which can result in the theft of users’ personal information including bank details, thus leading to consumers’ money being stolen. Another reason for some consumers not to prefer online business is that it lacks human factor. Some consumers feel that online business is too mechanized due to the automated processes and lacks communication.

Consumers’ Perception Towards Online Business

Although online business has its share of risks, consumers continue to make use of them. Their perception of online business is that it is highly convenient and allows them to conduct their business in a faster manner as compared to the traditional means of doing business, such as purchasing goods from brick and motor stores. According to Molchanov (2014), the convenience results from the fact that business can be done anywhere in the world and, more significantly, in the comfort of customers’ homes. Moreover, consumers perceive online business as the one that has greatly simplified the process of conducting business.

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It is imperative to note that consumers prefer to visit retailers, such as trip advisor, rather than Etihad’s main website for their online booking. Haensel, Koole, and Erdman (2011) view that the reason behind this is that airline tickets are usually more expensive on airline company websites as compared to the websites run by agencies and retailers. Thus, for Etihad’s customer base, there are fewer online bookings on the company’s website, since cheaper alternatives are available to customers through retailers. Additionally, customers prefer retailers to visiting Etihad’s website, because the latter place more focus on sales. Customers find it significant, because it prevents time wastage because of navigating through the airline’s entire website as they seek a specific platform for making bookings. On the contrary, customers make their bookings with retailers immediately, since their websites have less overwhelming information.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, digital marketing has been essential in introducing change in the airline industry. Offline booking mechanism has slowly become obsolete due to the onset of online booking. Regarding Etihad Airways, its growth has been facilitated by the increase in customer demand for online booking. This has been essential in overseeing the overall growth of e-booking. The process has proved to be relevant not just for customers but also for the GCC and the UAE region. For Etihad, the company’s perception of online booking has been positive given the various advantages it has received. Although some consumers remain skeptical about the use of online booking, most admit it has been convenient for their travel.