@AirCanada: updating its supply chain from coast-to-coast with social media

Jean-Francois Marquis    February 25, 2016

Born in 1937 under the name of Trans Canada Air Lines, Air Canada is the results of the fusion of many Canadian airline companies. Serving customers from coast-to-coast and even abroad, the largest Canadian airline has built a strong and efficient supply chain management through the years.

Did you know that Air Canada has put in place the first computerized reservation program in the world? The computer system ReserVec was introduced in January of 1963. Already making sure it is using the best technology possible, AC continues its growing supply chain on social media.

Treating social media like any other marketing channel

With more than 38.5 M passengers a year, the carrier keeps improving its response to the growing supply demand for leisure and business travels. Customers no longer have to book trips through travel agencies. Social media has helped the company reaching customers directly and engage with its followers. Air Canada is very active on Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn.

Customers use social media not only to interact with friends, but also to like, share and comment on the content of their brands and retailers. Air Canada got the message! Present on social media 24/7, the company does not hesitate to send weather or travel alerts and baggage claims information through its platforms.

“There are a slew of companies in the market that harvest, cleanse, and analyze social media indicators.  Aligning these calculated indexes may reflect a correlation to the associated sales.”

– Paula Natoli, JDA, Supply Chain Nation.

Air Canada is treating social media like any other traditional marketing channel, but does it analyze the insights or the return on investment?

Change the distribution model

With the fast pace at which the technology is evolving, companies must adapt. These changes, for many corporations, can even include revising, updating and completely transforming their distribution model.

Having known some lean days due to the acquisition of Canadian airlines in 2001, and to the terrorist attacks on American soil in September of that same year, the airline filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on April 1, 2003. Facing such a situation AC had to restructure its operations and supply chain.

Social media and emerging technologies have changed the way consumers buy. We’ve seen it when iTunes started to sell music, when AirBnB started to rent apartments and when Uber started to transport ground passengers from A to B.

Thankfully for Air Canada, no other #SharingEconomy company can replace their airline transportation services. AC now uses social media as a distribution channel. With frequent discounts and offers on their platforms, the company clearly wants to utilize social media to sell… to sell airline tickets, but to sell dreams in the first place.

Lessons for Others

Adapting to emerging technologies is the key to success for businesses and Air Canada has proven to be a strong leader in this matter. Everything started with ReserVec in 1963 and continues now with Twitter and Facebook.

The airline carrier has learned that cutting some distributors (Travel agencies) from its distribution model would increase its profits, or by creating its own agency Air Canada Vacation. Reaching consumers directly has proven to be an effective way to do business and there is no such channels with good return on investment like social media.

Air Canada… your world awaits!

Organization: Air Canada
Industry: Airline
Name of Organization Contact: Priscille LeBlanc, Vice President, Corporate Communications

Authored by: Jean-Francois Marquis

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.