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Sun 7 Jan 2007 04:00 AM

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In-flight mags are an extension of an airline's brand

An airline's in-flight magazine should be more than something to just glance at during take off. It should offer an insight into the airline's brand: Chris Shaw director, The Media Factory, publisher of Qatar Airways' Oryx Natasha Pendleton group sales manager business titles, ITP, publisher of Etihad Inflight.

An airline's in-flight magazine should be more than something to just glance at during take off. It should offer an insight into the airline's brand: Chris Shaw director, The Media Factory, publisher of Qatar Airways' Oryx Natasha Pendleton group sales manager business titles, ITP, publisher of Etihad Inflight.

How do you pitch your magazine to advertisers?

Chris Shaw:

Oryx is a brand extension of Qatar Airways, one of only four five-star airlines in the world, and the magazine has to reflect its values and qualities. We feel we successfully achieve this, which means we engage our captive readership. This is precisely the environment that the advertiser requires.

Natasha Pendleton:

Etihad Inflight is targeted at the higher end of business and leisure travellers to and from Abu Dhabi. The production values of the publication are extremely high and tend to attract advertisers targeting similar audiences.

Should there be different in-flight magazines for different passenger classes?

Chris Shaw:

I am a firm believer that there should be additional reading material available to those in premium classes. These passengers have that much more disposable income indulge them. It also works well for advertisers as the content can be tailored to cover more exclusive topics without alienating your readers.

Natasha Pendleton:

Not necessarily. Each airline positions itself differently and its passenger demographics are consequently different. Etihad in particular tends to attract high-end, affluent travellers intending to visit the nation’s capital, either for business or pleasure. Each of the Etihad classes are excellent, so which part of the aircraft people sit in isn’t necessarily an accurate indicator of their lifestyle.

What kind of products are the most heavily advertised in inflight magazines?

Chris Shaw:

Currently property companies feature heavily as you’d expect. Being the in-flight magazine for the national carrier of Qatar, it is unsurprising that we also get a number of oil and gas companies. Hotels and tourism authorities are also popular.

Natasha Pendleton:

Property, real estate and luxury brands are among the popular advertisers for the magazine, especially those based in or associated with Abu Dhabi. With other in-flight magazines it may well be different, depending on how the airline positions itself.

How important is the editorial content of inflight magazines?

Chris Shaw:

It is absolutely crucial to the success of the magazine. The passenger make-up of any airline is incredibly diverse so the content, including the photography as well as the design, has to appeal to all sorts.

Natasha Pendleton:

As with all successful magazines, Etihad Inflight is an editorially-led product. It is crucial that the readers engage with the magazine. Etihad Inflight invests heavily in high quality editorial, from editors and writers to world class imagery and design. In the period from ‘push back’ to cruising altitude, all passengers reach for the in-flight title. It is imperative that the editorial captures their attention and maintains their interest long into the flight.

How do you prove to advertisers that passengers have engaged with the magazine?

Chris Shaw:

The great thing about this part of the world is that everyone travels. Ask them about their own habits do they read the magazine? Do they see those around them reading the magazine? I can, hand-on-heart, assure them that most people do. Copies with pages torn out are also a good sign. As are the letters we receive asking for copies to be sent to far flung corners of the world.

Natasha Pendleton:

Etihad conducts in-depth surveys through its newly launched ‘Etihad Guest’ programme via the magazine itself, which provides us with accurate information on the magazine’s readership. In addition, the guests do volunteer their thoughts and feedback via email to the editor or to Etihad Airways directly which get passed on to us. In terms of circulation, Etihad Inflight is also audited by the BPA.

What to you dislike about in-flight magazines?

Chris Shaw:

An aeroplane seat is not the most comfortable place to really enjoy them.

Natasha Pendleton:

The thought that I may never get to see all the wonderful destinations we feature.

Do advertisers and media agencies in the Middle East see the value of contract publishing?

Chris Shaw:

Contract publishing has many different guises, but as a rule, yes, they seem to be coming round. Brands, whether they be airlines or hotels, for example, have a tough job retaining custom. Producing a magazine that reflects their brand continually reminds the customer why they initially chose them and customers like this reassurance. Therefore, if you have this defined readership coupled with a dedicated distribution channel, then a magazine is an excellent communication medium.

Natasha Pendleton:

More and more institutions are recognising the value of contract publishing it is an excellent and very successful way of promoting the core values and positioning of an organisation or institution through a highly useful, engaging and frequently used product.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Chris Shaw:

Still having to explain to clients that buying an ad doesn’t mean they receive editorial.

Natasha Pendleton:

Not being able to travel to enough of the destinations we feature.

Are there any perks associated with working for an airline?

Chris Shaw:

First class travel and Limo pick-ups. No, we enjoy a thoroughly professional relationship with Qatar Airways. We are publishers and our focus is producing a magazine to the best possible quality.

Natasha Pendleton:

That would be telling.

Image Caption:

Chris Shaw

director, The Media Factory, publisher of Qatar Airways’ Oryx

Natasha Pendleton

group sales manager business titles, ITP, publisher of Etihad Inflight

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