Cathay Pacific: Transcending Continents to Engage a Loyal Customer Base

Whether Cathay Pacific’s customers are flying 200 or 10,000 miles, one thing remains the same: they’re guaranteed service straight from the heart. Cathay Pacific’s vision is to be the world’s best airline, and to get there, they know they need to deliver impeccable customer care.

Offering passenger and cargo services to 194 destinations in 52 countries can often result in fragmented conversations and a disconnected customer base, but Cathay Pacific gets ahead of these issues by having meaningful conversations with their customers through social media. We sat down with Dennis Owen, Group Manager Social Media at Cathay Pacific, to talk through how he and his team use social to gain loyal customers, reach a global audience, and engage influencers.

How does Cathay Pacific strengthen customer relationships on social?

We love social media, as it allows us to have two-way conversations with our customers. For us it’s about being responsive to our customers’ needs and desires on each social media channel. We have to understand the differences between the channels and tailor our messages and responses accordingly.

Facebook is home to our true fans and flyers, where we engage around new services, product enhancements, and fare promotions. It’s also a channel for customer service issues, which are important to address as quickly as possible.

Customer service issues are also a growing part of Twitter. Twitter reaches a broader audience that is interested in travel in general. This audience may not have flown on Cathay Pacific before, but they have the desire to travel in style.

LinkedIn is where we interact with our current and potential business travelers. Because of this, we limit our content here to subjects that matter to frequent travelers, such as articles promoting our new first-class lounge called “The Pier” at Hong Kong International Airport or how to avoid jet lag while traveling on business.

Instagram and Pinterest are all about inspiring people to travel well. Both networks, of course, are much more focused on the visuals, so it’s here that we convey our brand campaign and theme of Life Well Travelled.

What kind of emerging channels has Cathay Pacific used to engage customers?

We are careful not to just jump on every new channel that comes out via social media. We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin unnecessarily. The channel has to make sense for us as a brand, and for the majority of our customers. Having said that, Periscope, with its live audience feed, is an interesting space we are exploring in 2016.

How has Cathay Pacific built a global presence on social media?

A social media audience only grows globally by providing the right kind of content.

We have built a global presence in a thoughtful, focused and localized way over the past few years. We have done this by developing social media presences consistent with our desired target audiences, whether it is the business customer or the leisure customer.

It’s not easy, as a global brand, to address social media in one setting or page. Because of this, our Facebook and Twitter pages are more localized by specific regions or countries.

If we have a fare to promote out of our home, Hong Kong, for example, it is unlikely customers in other countries care to see that kind of content. Local content is important to keep our global customers engaged. It has to be relevant for our customers where they live. A customer in China isn’t necessarily interested in the same thing as a customer in Europe or North America.

How has Cathay Pacific engaged social media influencers?

Influencers have been used successfully as a source of opportunity to extend our brand reach with audiences that may not be familiar with us. We used them extensively in our Life Well Travelled campaign with influencers that fit our brand. Having Jessica Stein, a travel and personal style blogger based in Sydney, and Tyson Wheatley, a photographer based in Atlanta was very helpful in spreading the Life Well Travelled message.

Where do you see social media going as a focus for Cathay Pacific in the future?

Social media has evolved over the past few years, for all brands. As a company, we will look at social media much more from an enterprise level. This means social media will move from being an exclusive marketing responsibility to a discipline used in various other departments, such as corporate communication around brand protection and storytelling, global call centers involving social customer service, HR around social recruitment and Sales and Distribution covering social selling potentially. The opportunities are definitely worth exploring in various departments. It’s simply a matter of priorities, focus and timing.

As you can see from Cathay Pacific’s approach, customer engagement doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Focus on these five takeaways, and your brand is sure to reach the pot of gold at the end of the customer engagement rainbow—customer loyalty.

Caitlin Cavanaugh's picture

Caitlin Cavanaugh

Caitlin Cavanaugh is the Brand Marketing Specialist for Spredfast, where she spends her time building the world’s most #SmartSocial brand through the power of customer voice. When she’s not chasing a revolutionary success story, you can find her embarking on her next hunting or fishing expedition or baking up a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies.