Lead­er­ship can take many forms and it may well be that your front-line staff have the clear­est vi­sion about your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s brand and what it rep­re­sents. By An­nie Gray.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS -

Lead­er­ship can take many forms and it may well be that your front-line staff have the clear­est vi­sion about your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s brand and what it rep­re­sents.

Hawai­ian Air­lines is a chal­lenger brand in al­most ev­ery mar­ket it op­er­ates in. It is less than half the size of its next small­est com­peti­tor and it faces tough com­pe­ti­tion in al­most ev­ery mar­ket it flies to. It has built its brand strength around of­fer­ing au­then­tic and unique Hawai­ian hospi­tal­ity which helps it to stand out even when out­spent on ad­ver­tis­ing by big­ger com­peti­tors.

Avi Man­nis, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Hawai­ian Air­lines, told Man­age­ment the air­line is a pre­mium des­ti­na­tion air­line, with “the priv­i­lege and re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing the flag­ship car­rier of the state”. He says while lots of air­line brands are do­ing great things, Hawai­ian sees it­self as am­bas­sadors of Hawai­ian cul­ture and they take that re­spon­si­bil­ity very se­ri­ously.

Hawai‘i is a pre­mium leisure des­ti­na­tion and leisure travel is an emo­tional jour­ney as much as it is a phys­i­cal one and for pas­sen­gers on Hawai­ian Air­lines, their hol­i­day in Hawai‘i be­gins the mo­ment they board the aircraft. The air­line aims to em­bed Hawai­ian cul­ture and val­ues through­out the cabin de­sign and ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence.

Man­nis says the prod­uct they sell is not trans­porta­tion, it is a change of mind­set. “Any­one can fly a plane from A to B – the dif­fer­ence is the state of mind they cre­ate.

“We are very conscious of the fact that Hawai’i is our name and we rep­re­sent a place. We have to be au­then­tic.” Man­nis points to the air­line’s “ter­rific cul­ture of hospi­tal­ity” amongst em­ploy­ees.

“A lot of what we do with the brand is trying to ex­press what our staff are think­ing. What makes us dif­fer­ent from the com­pe­ti­tion is our peo­ple.

“We are a re­flec­tion of the peo­ple who work for us and that is what we aspire to. The gen­uine con­nec­tion our flight staff form with our guests is re­ally im­por­tant. They get hugs when they get off. That is a lot of do with the cul­ture of Hawai’i and shar­ing aloha with guests.”

Man­nis says Hawai­ian is a “phe­nom­e­nal” brand. Ten years ago it went through fi­nan­cial and or­gan­i­sa­tional tur­bu­lence, but had, at its core, ter­rific peo­ple. They have since dou­bled the size of the busi­ness and been able to grow or­gan­i­cally.

The air­line is now in its 88th year of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice and flies to Hawai‘i

from 11 USA gate­way cities and from New Zealand, Aus­tralia, Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Amer­i­can Samoa and Tahiti. It pro­vides ap­prox­i­mately 170 jet flights daily be­tween the Hawai­ian Is­lands, with a to­tal of more than 250 daily flights sys­tem-wide.

It’s well rep­re­sented on so­cial me­dia chan­nels with more than one mil­lion Face­book and Twit­ter fol­low­ers and Man­nis sees so­cial me­dia as a great feed­back mech­a­nism that keeps brands hon­est about de­liv­er­ing on what they prom­ise con­sumers. It’s also a plat­form for de­liv­er­ing re­spon­sive cus­tomer ser­vice. “When we can solve a guest’s is­sue over so­cial me­dia, quickly and with warmth and em­pa­thy, we re­in­force our cred­i­bil­ity with the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

As to the main risks to a brand and how can they be mit­i­gated Man­nis be­lieves the big­gest risk is promis­ing some­thing and not de­liv­er­ing it. What­ever level of ser­vice you of­fer, con­sumers want to en­gage with brands that have au­then­tic voices and are true to them­selves.

“It is front-line em­ploy­ees who de­liver the brand, and it’s re­ally crit­i­cal for com­pa­nies to lis­ten to what the front­line thinks the brand is. It’s a lot eas­ier to chan­nel the be­liefs and pas­sion of the front-line into a truer ex­pres­sion of the brand than to con­vince thou­sands of peo­ple the brand is some­thing dif­fer­ent from what they be­lieve.”

The air­line has re­cently un­veiled a re­freshed brand and freshly painted liv­ery up­dat­ing Pualani (Flower of the Sky), the icon of Hawai­ian’s brand for more than four decades.

“Our new liv­ery em­bod­ies a stronger, more con­tem­po­rary rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Hawai­ian Air­lines’ cul­ture of ser­vice and hospi­tal­ity, which is the bedrock of our guest ex­pe­ri­ence,” said pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Dunker­ley in the air­line’s pub­lic­ity. “It ac­knowl­edges our place as Hawaii’s air­line and un­der­scores the com­mit­ment our em­ploy­ees make ev­ery day to pro­vide our guests with a gra­cious and gen­uine is­land wel­come.”

Paint­ing of all aircraft and ground ser­vice equip­ment is sched­uled to be com­plete by 2020.

Man­nis says the aim was to “re­tain the essence of our brand and ar­rive at a bolder, truer ex­pres­sion of our unique Hawai­ian hospi­tal­ity”.

The new vis­ual iden­tity pre­ludes the next chap­ter in Hawai­ian’s his­tory with the ar­rival of the medium-haul, sin­gle-aisle A321­neo fleet later this year. It is the next step in a se­ries of ma­jor in­vest­ments Hawai­ian has made to aircraft cab­ins, lounges, and other as­pects of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence over the past five years.

Hawai­ian Air­lines has also just cel­e­brated its fourth an­niver­sary of Auck­land ser­vice and in that time more than 120,000 pas­sen­gers have trav­elled on more than 500 flights from Auck­land to Honolulu.

Dunker­ley said in Auck­land re­cently that prior to Hawai­ian’s launch of three­times weekly ser­vice, fewer than 26,000 New Zealand trav­ellers vis­ited Hawai‘i in 2012, ac­cord­ing to Hawai‘i Tourism Au­thor­ity fig­ures. Fol­low­ing Hawai­ian’s en­try, vis­i­tor ar­rivals from Auck­land nearly dou­bled to more than 50,000 in 2013 and topped 60,000 for the third straight year in 2016.

In De­cem­ber, Hawai­ian in­tro­duced a Pre­mium Cabin fea­tur­ing 18 lie-flat seats in its A330 aircraft. These lie-flat leather seats fold into 180-de­gree beds. Aligned in a 2-2-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion, the seats are tai­lored to leisure trav­ellers such as cou­ples, fam­i­lies and hon­ey­moon­ers, while also of­fer­ing func­tion­al­ity for busi­ness trav­ellers.

Pas­sen­gers en­joy lux­ury ameni­ties, world-class is­land cui­sine pre­pared by Hawai‘i’s top chefs and ac­cess to movies and TV on a 13-inch widescreen tablet. The air­line also in­creased ‘ex­tra com­fort’ seats to 68 from 40 to meet grow­ing demand for its pre­mium econ­omy prod­uct. Pre­mium cabin ameni­ties were de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with well­known Hawai­ian de­signer Sig Zane. An­nie Gray trav­elled to Hawaii cour­tesy of Hawai­ian Air­lines.

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