As a person who is constantly flying I can tell you that there is a great deal of truth to the rule that it is the little things that matter. WestJet has continued to grow and expand even in those post-911 years while Air Canada continued to lose money, whine for taxpayer bailouts and demand preferential treatment on the allotment of gates at airports. While both airlines provide pretty much the same services, the differences in the provision of them are profound when you are the air traveler. The most glaring difference is simply attitude. Air Canada has a well earned reputation for surly service and unreasonable lineups while you feel like they are doing you a favor for simply answering a question. Air travel can be a harrowing experience at the best of times and dealing with Air Canada people can truly compound what is already a bad day.
WestJet has always focused on service and getting you from point A to point B with no frills but with as little stress as possible. Their perky service and in flight jokes can be a bit hokey, but they make the experience much more tolerable and they have built a loyal and growing client base on it.
The recent WestJet promotion with the Santa and gifts was nothing less than brilliant. This is the sort of idea (and willingness to follow through on it) that sets WestJet apart from the others. If you haven’t seen the viral video below, it is well worth a watch.
I encountered a cynical person on twitter who took terrible offense to this initiative last night. He howled on about how Air Canada does charities and that this WestJet thing is just a crass publicity stunt. He yelped about a TV being given to a man in a $600 jacket (apparently only people wearing rags should have gotten gifts). I suspect that this gentleman works for Air Canada (probably a union shop steward or something) and his attitude of bitterness and spitting out at this initiative perfectly demonstrates how Air Canada indeed just doesn’t get it.
Yes, this was a promotion that had the promotion of WestJet in mind in the end of things. Welcome to capitalism. This promotion brilliantly used social media and a true human element in order to go viral as it did. The effort was not disingenuous on the part of WestJet and that is why it has been embraced. As a company they do truly care (as much as any company can). It has been years of these kinds of efforts that have made it so that people in general do accept the human side of things with WestJet as being genuine.
The video is nearing a million views as I type and I expect that it will spread further as it goes international. It really was that good and striking as a promotion. WestJet does a whole pile of charitable works too as can be seen here, but it is the little things like the Santa idea and video that really add up.
For the above effort as well as countless other small things done by WestJet I will continue to go out of my way to use WestJet as much as possible. I do hope that WestJet’s competitors can learn from WestJet rather than keep trying to lash out at them.