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