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Berlin is unquestionably one of the most historic cities on the planet, and remains both the German capital and a hugely significant economic and cultural entity within the nation. And thus a recent initiative by a major German airline focused on this iconic German city, with the intention of attracting as much publicity as possible.

#Airtramp Promotion

On August 14, travel-loving Berliners benefited from what was dubbed the first #airtramp in the German capital. This was a promotion run by the Air Berlin airline; Germany's second largest airline, after Lufthansa, and Europe's eighth largest airline in terms of passengers carried.

Central to this notable example of marketing was 50 flights being made available for free by the airline. This promotion was essentially intended to transfer the concept of excitement and spontaneity to air travel, providing the adventurous Berlin resident with a unique opportunity.

Air Berlin requested Berliners to turn up at the airport in the city with a hitchhiking sign to a desired destination, or alternatively a backpack or travel bag. Those who were particularly lucky in this particular promotion would then have the opportunity to travel to this destination for free, once that the so-called "airtramp" bus had stopped for them.

The bus in question had left Hermannplatz at 1pm before picking up 50 hitchhikers along a pre-determined route through the city. They were then transported directly to their complimentary Air Berlin flight at the airport. In order to gain further publicity for the event, Air Berlin also ensured that there were some viral Internet names in attendance; thus YouTube star Sarazar and Instagram favourite Berlinstagram reported live from on board the bus.

Travellers were provided with the opportunity to choose from five different international destinations from the overall Air Berlin route as part of this promotion. Thus, Berliners could choose a spontaneous journey to Copenhagen, Rome, Vienna, Abu Dhabi and New York, and rest easy in the knowledge that return flights were also included in this marketing.

Flexible Flying

The ‘Trampflug’ promotion of Air Berlin was attempting to underline how easy it is to acquire flexible flights nowadays. By targeting the more flexible travellers of the German capital city, the airline intended to illustrate that one can be jetting off to another part of the world incredibly rapidly in the contemporary airline environment.

Air Berlin was also trying to emphasise that this promotion resulted in the airline becoming the first in Germany to communicate regularly with potential passengers via Snapchat. Following this extension in its social media portfolio, the airline indicated that they intended to utilise this new social media channel regularly for promotion and events going forward. This Snapchat communication will form part of the overall social media strategy of Air Berlin, with other channels also available to the company such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

With the spontaneous nature of this particular promotion and its focus on opening up new social media channels, it is clear that Air Berlin was aiming at a particularly millennial audience. It goes without saying that this young and upwardly mobile group of travellers has more potential to venture abroad spontaneously, as those contained within the millennial group have often not established family, children and the other responsibilities associated with adulthood.

This was perhaps the ultimate in last minute flying, but this is a phenomenon that often takes place in rather more routine circumstances. The Internet has opened up a massive marketplace in last-minute travel, perhaps most famously illustrated by the dotcom startup LastMinute.com. This company attracted huge attention when it first floated back in 1998, but has since established itself as a viable business offering flights to consumers making a snap and late decision.

Social media marketing can unquestionably play a major role in this new fertile niche. Although spontaneous travel is certainly not limited to young people, the very nature of it suggests that it will attract a largely youthful audience. And millennials are undoubtedly associated with social media platforms, and are emphatically the largest uses of photograph-based social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Spontaneous Zeitgeist

In an increasingly fast-paced world, and one in which consumers are always looking for the best options, often even on the go via mobile platforms, Air Berlin have certainly tapped into the cultural zeitgeist with this particular promotion. Although planning can still play a major role in travel and holidays, it is increasingly common for young people in particular to make spontaneous decisions about trips abroad.

Focusing on social media marketing and being aware of the need to offer flexibility and last minute spontaneity to customers all over the world, is playing an increasingly important role in modern tourism. Air Berlin has acknowledged this with the innovative promotion that the company carried out recently in Berlin, and destinations and travel-related companies should pay heed to this Trampflug marketing.

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