Travellers react more positively to safety than to emotional advertising appeals during the COVID-19 pandemic
Participants indicated higher air travel intentions and higher intentions to recommend the airline when they were exposed to safety appeals as compared to emotional appeals.
The aviation industry is one of the industries that has been hit the hardest during the global pandemic. The international civic airport aviation organization reports a decrease of 2.7 billion passengers, causing a total airline revenue loss of $372 billion in 2020 alone (-2.2 billion passengers and -$324 billion for 2021 (International Civil Aviation Organization, 2021).
Although people all over the world have started flying again, perceived risk still plays an important role in tourists’ travel decisions.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Air Transport Management by Marion Garaus and Melánia Hudáková, the authors aim to explore how individuals react to rational (safety) appeals vs. emotional appeals in terms of health risk perceptions and trust in the airline. In other words, to what type of marketing do consumers react more favorably, to safety or to emotional advertising?
Two different real-world video advertisements were presented to 218 participants (each participant was randomly given one of the two videos).
The emotional advertisement (Emirates, 2012) shows people working at various destinations, the nightlife of different cities (i.e. people having fun) as well as other beautiful pictures of various locations of the world. The advertisement ends with the slogan, “Tomorrow believes, the more of our world we see, the richer we become.”
The safety advertisement demonstrates several safety measures at the airport facilities and on the airplane (Emirates, 2020), including displays that indicate the distance requirements, glass panes at the check-in borders, and employees who are wearing face masks, hand gloves, and safety goggles as well as the staff who are pictured cleaning and disinfecting the airplane.
By employing an experimental design, the researchers demonstrate that during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers react better to safety as compared to emotional advertising appeals. More specifically, participants indicated higher air travel intentions and higher intentions to recommend the airline when they were exposed to safety appeals as compared to emotional appeals.