The communication strategy of the company plays a crucial role in its positioning as well as promoting brand and reputation. The internal communication plan is necessary for ensuring proper and effective cooperation among different departments of the company. Eventually, the media campaign is essential for the promotion of the products and services of the company. Therefore, the current paper aims to identify the key features of the communication strategy developed by Etihad Airways - the biggest company in the UAE - and to provide recommendations as to the further improvement of its corporate communication plan.
The Overview of the Company
Etihad Airways is a UAE-based company with the largest market share in the industry. The company’s first flight was performed in 2005. Since that time it has added more than 45 destinations all over the world. The company positions itself as one of the low-budget air carriers with more than 240 aircraft, 130 airports, and 780 routes (Etihad Airways, 2016). After the number of interviews was held with the employees of the company, the analysis of the company’s social structure, as well as the publications in the media, were analyzed. Therefore, the media report outlines the following characteristics of the communications at Etihad Airways (Etihad Airways, 2016). The company is well-known for its excellent cabin crew services that are provided to its clients. The airline operates in various regions, including Africa, Asia, America, Europe, and the Middle East. Alongside Etihad Airways, the organization also includes the Etihad Cargo and the Etihad Holidays, which specialize in different services offered to clients worldwide. Currently, the company is considering expansion to the developing markets as well as the enlargement of the target audience.
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Communication Activities Review
First of all, it should be stressed that the company is successfully using the possibilities related to digital marketing. The organization has a well-developed website accustomed to the needs of various clients coming from all over the world. The information is presented in several languages to suit as many clients as possible. Moreover, Etihad Airways has introduced the system of online feedback that provides the company with the opportunity to get responses from the customers to improve the services accordingly (Etihad Airways, 2016). The organization is currently present on all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+, and YouTube. Apart from that, as a part of the customer service, the company offers a range of routes to the clients so that they can choose the one that suits their interests. The employees usually contact the customer within 10 minutes after the request has been identified and provide their recommendations as to the choice of the destination, the place to stay, local transportation options, etc. In other words, when communicating with the clients, the company is employing individualized approaches to ensure that no one is left unattended (Etihad Media Centre, 2016). Additionally, the company has introduced the mapped-out service that provides the users with the opportunity to message, manage contacts, and make bookings. Recently, the company has announced the launching of the strategic cooperation with Cognizant - the technology and innovation company. Such collaboration is expected to result in the creation of more value that will enable the organization to better identify and recognize the interests and needs of its clients.
As to the CSR strategy, the company mainly supports cricket and football sports activities. In general, the organization frequently sponsors sports events with the purpose of promoting its brand and raising awareness among the customers. At the same time, it should be stressed that the company is sensitive to the UAE culture. Therefore, while participating in various events, it makes attempts to promote Arab traditions within the international community (Cognizant, 2015). For example, the company has sponsored New York, Melbourne City, and Manchester City Football Clubs (Etihad Airways, 2016). Moreover, the airline has been participating in the building of many infrastructure projects to promote its brand.
As for internal communication, it should be mentioned that the company employs a single decentralized approach in shaping communication processes. At the same time, every employee is provided with personalized care and ongoing feedback from the managers. The CEO of the company James Hogan asserts that the recruitment mechanisms ensure that every person who is taken on board shares the vision and the strategy of the organization (Walker, 2016). Moreover, Hogan quarterly meets the employees of the company to gain a clear understanding of all the processes that are going on within the teams (Walker, 2016). Moreover, in such a way, he can react to the problems related to communications and handle them on an ongoing basis. Once a year, all of the workers meet at the conference where the best of them are rewarded by the top management of the company (Walker, 2016). Moreover, the organization has adopted a system that allows employees to file their recommendations, grievances, and proposals, which are later reviewed by the respective managers.
So far the company has not been involved in any of the public crises. However, the overview of the firm presupposes that it has a strategy for dealing with crises. The vision of the company provides a few options that might be adopted by the communications department in case the problem occurs (Delfmann, Baum, Auerbach, & Albers, 2005). Moreover, the employees of the organization are taught about various communications-related issues and are provided with the ongoing support offered by the communications office.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Assessing the communications of the company, the following strengths and weaknesses should be mentioned. First of all, the organization focuses primarily on digital marketing with a strong reliance on online tools that offer a rather customized menu that is suitable for travelers with different backgrounds. Secondly, the firm has adopted communications policies that help facilitate and foster cooperation at work (Delfmann et al., 2005). Apart from that, Etihad Airways has created a separate communications office responsible for the consistency of the messages sent to the customers, investors, and publicity. Furthermore, the company is actively present on all social media platforms.
Concerning the weakness, there are very few of them. First of all, the company primarily focuses on business clients. Yet, no marketing segmentation approach is applied regarding the communications with the clients. Moreover, the firm has not adopted separate communications strategies to the different markets in which it operates. Additionally, it has not yet experienced crises; therefore, it is hard to judge its performance under such circumstances. Eventually, the company has adopted a very limited yet widespread approach to CSR initiatives.
The Strategic Recommendations
Based on the weakness that has been identified in the course of the analysis, the following recommendations are suggested. First of all, the company should determine its strategic goals and then adjust the marketing plan by them. Following the identification of the customers, the firm might then attempt to diversify its communication strategies. More specifically, it can try to adjust them to fit the clients’ expectations and to appear where the strategic customers are present. Apart from that, the company is recommended to hold the training on crisis communication to secure itself from the reputation issues at the times when the crisis will eventually occur.
The diversification and segmentation of the target audience should also be considered by the company with the purpose of more effective customer targeting. Additionally, the airline should adjust its communications tools as well as messages to the local markets to ensure that it reaches those customers. All of these recommendations are valid for the current state of the company and its future expansion strategy. Eventually, the firm should consider expanding and diversifying its CSR activities to become more sustainable and to reach more customers. Moreover, the marketing and communications standards should go hand-in-hand and the communications office has to ensure that all the interactions are performed by the policies set by the company.
Etihad Airways is a large air carrier based in the UAE with the biggest market share in the region. The organization has clear and transparent communications policies ensuring effective cooperation. The company’s strengths in this sector also refer to the formalization of the communication processes occurring within the firm as well as the strong reliance on digital marketing. On the other hand, Etihad Airways is recommended to diversify its CSR activities, divide the markets and target audiences into segments, and make the communicated messages more consistent with the local context where the company is currently operating.