Recently, All Nippon Airways (ANA)’s started phase two of its U.S. marketing campaign, “Welcome to Experience Class™”. The Japanese airline is focusing on increasing awareness of Asian destinations for US travelers. We asked Tadashi Matsushita, Head of Strategy for the Americas a few questions about this.
- How is ANA differentiating its service in its new Experience Class from the competition?
The Experience Class campaign is born out of the concept that at ANA, we believe that no matter who you are or where you sit, everyone should be treated with the same standard of high quality service. Experience Class™ also embodies our belief that the journey is as important as the destination, and our commitment to providing our travelers with a unique, immersive experience from the moment they set foot on the plane.
Also, the continuation of our U.S. campaign is designed to inspire U.S. travelers to consider Asia as their next travel destination. And, more importantly, to choose ANA – a five-star airline with unparalleled hospitality and service – as the carrier to take them there. Specifically, we want to use this campaign to continue to increase our brand awareness with U.S. travelers by bringing to life the ANA experience, which features high-touch five-star service, authentic culinary creations, and meticulous attention to every detail, which sets ANA apart from competitors.
- What does ANA offer on the ground to assist Western business travelers in Japan?
As Japan’s only five-star airline, ANA provides passengers traveling in first, business and premium economy classes access to its premium lounges at the Haneda International Airport and Narita International Airports in Tokyo, as well as at the airports in Osaka and Nagoya. ANA’s lounges include premium space to access Wi-Fi, relax and enjoy delicious cuisine including a variety of Japanese dishes including rolled sushi, miso soup, stir-fired noodles and ramen from our award-winning “Connoisseurs.”
- Why should US travelers consider Japan for their next vacation?
Travel to Asia is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, Asia is one of the most popular overseas destinations for U.S. travelers, behind Europe and the Caribbean according to the U.S. Department of Tourism. Also, Tokyo was named one of the 2017 Best Cities in the World by Conde Nast Traveler due to its unique mix of ultramodern vibes, historic shrines, natural beauty and status as one of the world’s best destinations for foodies.
- ANA was a launch customer for the Dreamliner. What has been your customer reaction to the airplane?
ANA was proud to be the first airline in the world to operate the 787 Dreamliner and it allowed us to continue to support our mission of safety and to bring new standards of comfort and service to our passengers. The response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive as it adds to an unforgettable experience.
In considering the focus on the quality of service, regardless of seating, ANA is playing to a strength. Asian culture has a quite different approach to service than western cultures. Take a look at this academic paper as an example. Focusing on Japan specifically, you want to read this article and learn about Omotenashi. Here is another useful view on this word and its far-reaching meaning. Here is an ANA video on Omotenashi.
In western culture, if you provide a service to another, the service provider is not the equal of the recipient. This means the recipient can easily develop a sense of entitlement. Such a devaluing of service into an entitlement can quickly breakdown an interaction and the experience can become negative. It does not take long to do a mental review and recall numerous such events. And not just in airline travel.
In Asian cultures, it was explained to us, the service provider can be seen as “superior” to the recipient. This is a subtle, but crucial, point. If the service provider is making the recipient comfortable and happy, it is the recipient who is “inferior”.
A stark difference between US airlines and Asian airlines has always been perceptions of cabin service.
ANA is, therefore, drawing attention to a core strength in Japanese (and Asian) culture. Air travel is now routinely something to be endured rather than enjoyed. If ANA can provide its US-based customers with a taste of Japan’s Omotenashi, it will come as a joyful surprise. A long flight where the crew enjoys serving and trying to make the trip a pleasant one. All the cabin technology in the world cannot replace pleasant passenger/crew interaction. It is this interaction people remember and talk about.