Marie Claire last spring connected 100 women in business on the East Coast with 100 women in business on the West Coast for “Power Trip.” The 36-hour conference designed with the “badass girl boss” and busy woman in mind didn’t waste a moment—including the six-hour plane ride.
The event included a chartered JetBlue flight, which offered the flexibility of leveraging different sections of the plane. But in a typical flight, with a hundred or more passengers, the logistics of activating an event are a little more complicated. No stranger to in-flight events on commercial flights (did you see its Reach Across the Aisle vacation giveaway stunt?), JetBlue in July hosted an in-flight mixology event dubbed… wait for it… Shakes on a Plane. Activated in partnership with Bar Business magazine, the event served the dual purpose of highlighting JetBlue’s premium beverage offerings while giving its beverage partners “air time.”
Following are top tips from JetBlue’s events and marketing team on planning an event for the skies:
1. Timing is Everything
Design in-flight events with the food and beverage service in mind. It’s safer, since the plane is at cruising altitude, but it’s also a natural break in the flight when passengers are seated and expect a disruption. Because of this, long-haul flights work best and a demonstration-style engagement is recommended. For Shakes on a Plane, mixologists created three cocktails in the aisle while a Bar Business editor walked the seated passengers through the ingredients and processes from the front of the cabin section. It ended with the two rounds of cocktails (and mocktails) served during beverage service.
2. Set Expectations
JetBlue lets customers know ahead of time if a flight they’ve booked includes an event. The airline doesn’t give up the surprise and delight, but it does give customers the opportunity to change their flight free of charge. Once in the air, the airline offers alternative activities for passengers who do not wish to participate. For Shakes on a Plane, JetBlue handed out free ear buds and offered free movies for passengers looking to tune out.
3. Make it Memorable
Make it light, effortless and don’t be shy with the giveaways and custom collateral. Promote a hashtag in the materials to encourage passengers to share their experiences. And don’t forget about content. For JetBlue, especially with the filmed Reach Across the Aisle stunt, the evolution of content capture presents more opportunities to spread the thrill of a stress-free and unique flying experience. “It’s always been part of our strategy to surprise and delight customers, I think it’s just true of our brand personality and who we are, and now with social media and in-flight wi-fi, it’s a matter of being able to tell our brand story on a larger scale,” says Tara Carson, manager-regional marketing and consumer promotions at JetBlue.