Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
HighFlyerPL185

Any tips for running VA marketing, running a VA professionally and reaching wider audiences?

Recommended Posts

Hi there,

 

I have been leading my own VA, flyeuro.com for the past 1.5 years. It is a relatively short amount of time I imagine compared to some of larger VAs who have existed for more than 10 years, but I am already running out of patience. While I am a very patient man, the fact is, VAs are not easy to run. I accepted this challenge right at the start, and until now, my virtual airline is quite successful at achieving what I set out to do. "To create a realistic simulation of a low-cost airline in Europe". However, while we are achieving this objective, we cannot fulfill the activity in terms of pilots. We have established ourselves as a solid airline, but pilots just register, and usually never return. Some do a flight or two, and never return. Some of them stay, and fly for a longer period, however even they get bored, and leave eventually. They usually get replaced by another regular pilot...

 

I like to be a personal critic and change and upgrade things as I go, however I strongly believe that this VA has very few shortcomings. I have analyzed this today quite rationally, and arrived to multiple conclusions. The website offers almost everything, and is simple to use. No offence but 80% of the websites I see make me vomit. The other minority belong to professional airlines, who as said above existed for a long time. We have a fleet model which supports both realism and variety. During our time, we have been made official by VATSIM, IVAO and even recognized by VATEUD but to name a few. We have also partnered up with organizations to offer discounts. We have invested in a Custom ACARS software, and invested into different servers to create subsidiary airlines, to add variety. We have also recently rolled out a mobile website, to satisfy mobile users.

 

Our operations offer more than a 1000 routes from 16 European hubs, across 10 countries, with a fresh low-cost livery, and extensive support for payware and freeware liveries. We also update our network every two months, with new hubs and destinations, withdrawing those underperforming bases. In my humble opinion, I don't think any fictional VA would do this.

 

In terms of marketing, we always inform our users of new updates on social feeds such as Twitter and Facebook. We have done promotional video campaigns, posted adverts, and nothing truely seems to attract regularity from pilots. We even had regular VATSIM/IVAO events, and a Training Academy but they were ceased due to lack of interest from pilots.

 

None of these benefits or methods attract more attention. While the activity is there, it does not ever peak. Fourty or so pilots (out of 250 we have) stay regular, and fly at least once per 30 days. However, you don't see more than 5-6 flights a day. While I will never change this, I feel dissapointed by the fact that everyone seems to flock to real virtual airlines, often their favourites in real life, while missing the potential of fictional airlines.

 

I do understand that there are a lot of VAs with the same issue, and we are not alone probably. Although I do not want to speak too highly of my VAs image, I believe I have done a lot with my staff team to create a professional image, and yet there is no major activity. I think we deserve better, and I'm sure there are other VAs out there who do so too. But now, I do ask you professionals, other VA leaders, enthuasists... Is there anything that I am missing from success of my virtual airline? Are there any other ways from the ones that I've mentioned to get noticed?

 

You can visit it here, and judge it for yourselves: http://flyeurova.com/index.php/. I would massively appreciate your opinions. Too much effort and investment went into it, just to let it go. This post may also seem like a one big advertisement, and if it is, great. But on the contrary, it is rather a cry for advice.

 

Perhaps for someone outside of the airline, it might be easier to spot the drawbacks.

Kind Regards


Kamil Bonczyk

 

u628q09uxqvcvqcdbnn4.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't complain to much, if you can get 5-6 flight/day, I'd say you're doing well.

 

You seem to be doing every that you should be doing, perhaps you should consider adding the majestic dash 8 to your fleet, you might pickup some majestic pilots.

 

As for me, I like to fly more of the private GA type of a/c. I'm just not into flying the iron, but most people are, so.. that is good.

 

plan events? maybe you do already, I didn't look to deep at your site. 

 

and the hardest thing, just don't quit.


Ciao!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My biggest frustration is pilots who join but then don't fly :wacko:  they've taken the trouble to pass the entrance exam, fill in the application form and then verify their e-mail address, but then we don't hear anything further from them!  :blink:  That must represent at least 50% of all pilots we accept :mellow:  I could understand this if stuff was hidden away behind a login screen (some airlines do this) but  almost everything is out in the open and publicly viewable, even the forums. And no amount of e-mail reminders seems to get them in the air.

 

No offence but 80% of the websites I see make me vomit.

Haha this made me laugh but it's very true; whilst phpVMS is good, it has also enabled a lot of ill-equipped teenagers to start pop-up VAs that all basically look the same! We've all seen VAs that recruit members by offering/promising staff positions, which results in bunch of egotistical teenagers fighting over who's boss and a roster that has more staff than pilots. They usually close within 6 months, but by that point two other VAs with similar problems are ready to replace it :lol:

 

In terms of marketing, we always inform our users of new updates on social feeds such as Twitter and Facebook. We have done promotional video campaigns, posted adverts, and nothing truely seems to attract regularity from pilots. We even had regular VATSIM/IVAO events, and a Training Academy but they were ceased due to lack of interest from pilots.

Many VA pilots just want to log hours and aren't interested in interaction beyond this, so building a sense of community and getting members to engage in multiplayer events is one of the hardest parts of running a VA, especially a larger one. There's no simple answer or quick fix for that one, it's something you'll have to work hard on for an extended period of time, but if you can do it the rewards are good ^_^

 

By their very nature, VAs tend to attract experienced sim pilots so it's unsurprising training uptake was low, you have to target advertising at newbies that focuses on your training provision to ensure take up, registering as a VATSIM ATO might help? However, don't expect loyalty from pilots you train, it's still likely many will go elsewhere after a while.

 

Twitter and Facebook pages/groups are only followed by people already interested, they'll remind existing members you're still there and help SEO but they don't recruit anyone.
 

None of these benefits or methods attract more attention. While the activity is there, it does not ever peak. Fourty or so pilots (out of 250 we have) stay regular, and fly at least once per 30 days. However, you don't see more than 5-6 flights a day. While I will never change this, I feel dissapointed by the fact that everyone seems to flock to real virtual airlines, often their favourites in real life, while missing the potential of fictional airlines.

 

I do understand that there are a lot of VAs with the same issue, and we are not alone probably. Although I do not want to speak too highly of my VAs image, I believe I have done a lot with my staff team to create a professional image, and yet there is no major activity. I think we deserve better, and I'm sure there are other VAs out there who do so too.

If you want regularity from pilots you need to offer variety and progression to maintain their interest, but with a large choice of routes and awards already, I don't think you can do much more in this area. Ultimately everyone loses interest after a while, they find a new aircraft they like you don't fly or get bored of your base airports or decide they want to do VFR. Whilst you should try and keep members happy as long as possible, don't get frustrated when they move on because that's natural. If you can build a family style community (excuse the cliché) it will help prevent pilots drifting away. But 5-6 flights per day doesn't sound too bad, we probably have similar numbers (albeit from a smaller roster).

 

If you want more activity at FlyEuro, you need more members and I think that's best done with more advertising, but it must be well targeted. You have a very professional website but people will Google "ryanair virtual airline" or "easyjet va" before they've even heard of you, you need to drive traffic to your website. Word of mouth is a great thing, if you can get some of you pilots advertising you (for example with a simple forum signature or flight plan comment) that is a very powerful marketing tool.

 

You will be aware of this by now, but for the benefit of other readers, using your own name has pros and cons, the biggest problem is recruitment and affects any VA using a fictional name; if you are using a real airline's name then many people already know about your operations (what and where you fly) and will search you out without even knowing your VA actually exists. And as you've said, you'll get fans of that particular airline searching you out who will probably stick with you over the long term.

 

Using a fictional name means you can fly what and where you want, create your own image and there's no risk of being closed for copyright infringement. But that freedom means having to spend a lot of time repainting addon aircraft and building schedules. And the aforementioned recruitment problems; no one is going to look for you, you have to do a lot of clever marketing and explain your operations to people. And some people will just flat outright refuse to join a fictional airline (I don't understand this myself but it happens). Basically, you're free to do what you want but you'll put in more effort and get less pilots (I must be nuts)!


ckyliu, proud supporter of ViaIntercity.com. Find my spec and settings in "About me" on my profile.

support1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is another thought.

 

1. you are already pretending that you own/operate an airline

2. we are pretending to be pilots

 

so...

 

3. you might as well pretend you have tons of pilots who actually fly.


Ciao!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Running a VA is incredibly demanding and not very rewarding.  I tried many years ago and gave up - I now fly for a VA that suits me, the type of flying I do and has a good community.


sig01.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I run my own imaginary VA. It's just me and I simulate Air Dominicana (defunct) I fly all over the Caribbean just like I wished the real airline would've if it survived. I'd love to start an official VA but I don't have the time to do it. I'm waiting for something like Simair or Air Hauler 2 to come out and ill be set. Keep trucking Flyeuro looks very nice


Reik Namreg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the key things is a point of difference. What does your VA have that others don't offer. That's the only reason to stay and not float around creating your own variety as a pilot.

 

A route network and fleet are not enough. To gain mass popularity without offering something very unique in the software / website department, I think the only way to be a VA of any volume is have a great community. That will make people stick. Not very easy to get going though..


--


Martyn Pearson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Tom Allensworth,
    Founder of AVSIM Online


  • Flight Simulation's Premier Resource!

    AVSIM is a free service to the flight simulation community. AVSIM is staffed completely by volunteers and all funds donated to AVSIM go directly back to supporting the community. Your donation here helps to pay our bandwidth costs, emergency funding, and other general costs that crop up from time to time. Thank you for your support!

    Click here for more information and to see all donations year to date.
×
×
  • Create New...