It’s been a wretched time for Monarch. The beleaguered airline has been in the media spotlight these past few weeks and for all the wrong reasons. It’s been the subject of many industry debates and has seen rumours of its imminent demise circulate on social media.
As it teetered on the edge, not knowing if it would have its Atol renewed or not, it must have seemed like pretty dark days for the bosses of the airline.
Thankfully, for the moment, the airline seems to have had a reprieve and the Monarch brand name continues to grace the UK travel industry.
However, if the management thinks the worst is behind them they may be in for a disappointment or two.
Whenever an issue like this plays out in the harsh spotlight of the media, the public watches. Confidence and public perception of the brand now becomes the major factor.
Will the public be wary about the brand? Will they be convinced that all is well for the long term? Or will they, when presented with a choice of who to fly with to a holiday destination, choose another brand simply because it has not had the stories in the media or rumours in the marketplace that Monarch has recently endured?
That will be a tough battle. However, to tackle these issues Monarch has a secret weapon that it must use extensively in the next few months – its brand name and reputation.
Over the past few weeks I have been discussing the Monarch issue with people inside and outside the travel sector and one thing has resonated throughout – the genuine warmth that most people have towards the airline.
Nearly everyone, it seems, travelling to Europe or north Africa for a holiday, has been on a Monarch flight. It’s occupancy of that difficult part of the market, squeezed between the no-frills carriers of easyJet, Ryanair and others on one side, and the bigger scheduled airlines on the other, has generated much affection for the brand.
And let’s be frank, with one or two noticeable exceptions, there are very few travel brands that can boast a connection with the public and the trade in that same way.
So the launch of a major PR and marketing offensive by Monarch that leverages that public affection and trade warmth is going to be vital.
In times of doubt, the public always seek guidance. In this instance, the travel trade and the media will be the main reference points for people wondering about the strength of the brand and how safe their holiday will be.
Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield demonstrated great leadership qualities and a keen understanding of the need to harness the power of the brand and the warmth it enjoys, with a last-minute appearance at Abta’s Travel Convention last week.
In the months to come, the trade will be vital to Monarch and the airline must take every opportunity to harness that relationship while building on the warmth the public has for the brand.
For Monarch, its brand could be its crowning glory.
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