Jet Blue had its brand splashed across media outlets nationwide this week when it announced a promotion that allows passengers to fly the airline unlimited times during a 30-day period for $599 (restrictions apply, of course). The promotion, which is set up for flights between September 8 through October 8, give buyers the flexibility of scheduling flights as little as 3 days in advance. Customers must take action quickly; the last day to buy the plan is August 21st.
Is Jet Blue’s promotion the marketing gimmick of the month, or does it signal the beginning of a new trend in marketing promotions? Cynics would go with the former, questioning whether Jet Blue is aiming to score publicity quickly and inexpensively. I believe (and hope) there are longer-term strategic objectives for the promotion. Sure, the promotion gives Jet Blue brand exposure via the numerous media outlets that covered the story. It also puts the Jet Blue brand name in the minds of consumers, both frequent fliers and the occasional traveler. A sales promotion that enables customers to use and evaluate the product more than once, as this promotion is structured to do, can be effective for persuading consumers to consider your brand.
Most importantly, the promotion could persuade would be travelers to book on Jet Blue. This possibility is important for attracting first time Jet Blue customers. Also, a promotion such as this one could entice ex-customers to give the airline another try. This fact cannot be overstated given the very public customer service failures Jet Blue has experienced in recent years. Ultimately, it is not the one-price promotion that will win customers for Jet Blue. It is the experience passengers have from the time they book a flight until the time they touch down at their destination. If the experience does not meet expectations, it will take more than a unique promotion to win back those customers.