By Garland Pollard
AMSTERDAM – When governments come and go, companies that are dependable throughout the decades, even colonial companies, earn enormous goodwill. Such is the place of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which is one of the major European carriers to Africa.
While American carriers like Delta haved turned themselves into boring generic brands, and then they eliminate other amusing brands like Northwest when they buy them, airlines like KLM (and Lufthansa) are doing the opposite. We read in Tyler Brûlé ‘s column in the Financial Times that Lufthansa has a special Italian service.
And now we read about KLM and its The Africa Experience sub brand. It is not only branded because of its crews and such, but it has a whole new African menu items, courtesy of the travel company And Beyond. It also has a Club Africa website, which encourages sharing and entrepreneurship. It even offers online language lessons.
About the African menu:
&Beyond’s Group Training Chef, Dumi Ndlovu, and Group Hospitality Manager, Geoff O’ Grady have created the menus for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ Africa Experience, a celebration of the African continent that will run this Spring. Dumi’s carefully selected African-inspired meals (from beef bobotie to ostrich potjie) will be sampled by over 700,000 economy class and 100,000 business class passengers on KLM intercontinental flights from Amsterdam to its African destinations that include Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi. Each of Dumi’s in-flight meals will be paired with Nederburg and Fourcroy Nederland wines. A video of Dumi cooking in the African bush will also be played on the flight (to view the video, see www.africaexperience.nl).
Certainly, as American airlines try to expand across the globe, they might look to efforts like KLM’s, and not copy them, but take inspiration that small courtesies, gestures and added value items like websites and cuisine can turn a boring brand into a must-travel brand.
In fact, TWA did this decades ago when it went into a joint venture and started Ethiopian Airlines.