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Project: Integrated crisis communications during the Icelandic ash crisis in2010Category: ISSUES AND CRISIS MANAGEMENTSummaryIn April 2010 Europe’s tourism sector was hit by the ash cloud when a volcano inIceland erupted. It wreaked havoc on Europe’s air transport system: standardprecautionary acts included the immediate closure of airports. Estonian travel agencyEstravel acted immediately through local mass media and social media channels.Also, Estravel constantly communicated directly with important target groups. Alonglocal tourism sector players Estravel achieved the role of spokesperson and expert,whose commission was to consult clients and find solutions.From competitors’ reactions and statements, Estravel’s role was completely different.We centralized and distributed guidelines and informative announcements in purposeto give people practical help. Also Estravel consulted Estonian Ministry of ForeignAffairs and in certain situations the ministry relied on and distributed the informationthat was given by Estravel.According to Estravel’s notices it was the first time when Estonian media started touse (and quote) Facebook entries as the trustful fastest source of information.SituationApril 15th, when first airports were closed in Europe, can be considered as the firstday of the crisis. During the first days the range of the crisis was difficult to consider -all together 100 000 flights (53%) in Europe were cancelled! Chaos spread acrossEurope, with authorities in France, then Lithuania, then Hungary all deciding to closetheir airspaces. Tallinn’s airport was also closed. People, miles away from theirhomes and families, could not get back or had to cancel important meetings.Immediately, Estravel’s call center overburdened and we had to help and giveguidance to those clients who were stuck in the airports all over the world and to theirfamilies. For example, only during the weekend over thousand clients needed
Estravel’s assistance in cancelling or booking flights tickets, in annulling or organizingaccommodation etc.Last but not least one quarter of company’s employees were on the business trip inVenice and could not get back to Estonia. So, Estravel had to handle stressful crisissituation with decreased number of staff.ObjectivesGoals, objectives:• Fend the reputation of Estonian tourism sector in case of a crisis• Ease the burden of front-line workers of travel agencies through the provisionof information through mass media and social media• Hold an open, two-way communication in social media to reduce the tensionand minimize the recurrence of similar issues• Be the mediator of customer relations with international airlines and insurancecompanies· Increase the band awareness of Estravel and reinforce its position as the opinion leader of the tourism sector• Positively distinguish Estravel from other travel agencies• Activate public authorities to take a part of the notification load upon itselfTarget audience: whole wider public, including existing and potential customers,participants of the tourism market, media etc.StrategyDescribe the strategy and planning of the campaign to achieve the set goals andobjectives, as well as the criteria for the assessment of results (150 words max)· Message development and communications strategy:- To achieve the role of spokesperson/ expert and through that differ fromcompetitors- To initiate proactive media coverage, to respond reactive media queries,
to manage efficiently different social media channels- To inform and advise not only Estravel’ s clients but all the publicity· Main tactical activities- Catching the main spokesperson role in the media- Communicating directly with the clients (main stakeholders)- Constantly distributing information and updating it in social media channels:Estravel’ s blog: informative articles for people who could not return home and fortheir relatives;Facebook and Twitter: regular posts and updates about the last situation; real-time communications and advising; inciting people to share the information abouttransport etc;Mass media: pro- and re-active media relations, interchange of information withdifferent instances· Cross-promotion between communication channels· Contacts with authorities· Assessment of results- The number of media coverage and tonality compared to other travelagencies- The number of Estravel’s media coverage compared to other travelagencies and Estonian Association of Travel Agencies was the highest:- Customer feedback NPS-score rose to 64% (on global scale an extremely highresult)- Immediate effect on sales results: compared to 2009 the sales results of themonth following the crisis (in May) grew 12%, in June 16% (July 8%).Execution15th April
· First warning on Estravel’s Facebook page about the closing of Oslo’sAirport. Ongoing information about closed airports and airlines’ information appearsunder the same post.· Estravel opens a blog, where they gather all the information of Estonianand Finnish travel agencies, information from different airlines and also guidelines forpeople abroad, people who wait for their trip to begin and people back home.· Estravel is the first to give guidelines to travelers in media in terms ofwhere to to turn to receive information.16th April· Estravel puts together a guideline to those in need. Television, radioand online media receive the information from them.· Posts in Facebook, about Estravel’s plans to help clients who areaffected by the crisis; reference to the guideline on their homepage; information aboutalternative vehicles in Europe turning back to Estonia· Press release: Estravel asks their clients to be patient – coverage in allthe main online publications17th April· Estravel significantly complements their guidelines of behavior on their homepage,reference on the Facebook page.· In addition ongoing information about cars and buses driving back toEstonia on the Facebook page18th April· Estravel’s recommendation of postponing all planned flights in media· Instructions on Estravel’s homepage how relatives and friends can sendmoney to their loved-ones abroad, reference on the Facebook page.19th April· Via Facebook Estravel informs about the first signs of recovery ofthe airlines
20th April· To fasten the process of finding important information aboutdifferent airlines, Estravel publishes on their homepage the webpageinformation of all the major airlines, reference on the Facebook page.Documented ResultsInclude tangible and quantifiable results in relation to the assessment criteria. Showhow they measure up against the original objectives of the communication andbusiness goals.Please note, in the absence of any indication of results, the jury cannot award a mark,and the entry could suffer as a result. (150 words max)· Estravel took the role of the main spokesperson and wore it out. Themain difference can be seen when looking at different media coverage – Estravel ismainly giving advice how to act, other coverage are mainly descriptive (travelersare/are not arriving home)· Generally, the case showed, that the importance of social media isgrowing, especially in crisis situations, because people have the chance to talk abouttheir problems in real time. Estravel also showed the most action in this area,although others made some moves as well.· Also please have a look at the information under “Assessment ofresults” againName of the links URLEstravel in http://www.facebook.com/#!/EstravelFacebook www.estravel.eeEstravel’s homepage http://www.estravel.ee/uudised/category/turismiuudised/tuhakriis/ Estravel’s crisisblogEstravel in Twitter http://twitter.com/ - !/estravel_pakub