Startup lessons in what NOT to do: Unloved by FlyDubai

FlyDubai, the low-cost carrier based in Dubai must have one of the nicest fleets of aircraft, as well as pretty decent on-board customer treatment compared to other low cost carriers.

Apart from a few minor issues, I have rarely had a problem with the carrier on-board a flight and I have used it extensively even after their broadly-covered crash a year ago.

However, its online presence and digital marketing offer several lessons that startup founders can learn from. Here are a few that come to mind:

1- Deliver on your promised marketing message

Yesterday I received this promotional offer in my inbox. It seemed like an interesting offer and made sense since the Flydubai business class was introduced a couple of years ago but on many flights I have flown the seats are not used.

Note that the Terms&Conditions were not clickable

Shortly after seeing this message “Just book a return ticket in business class and you’ll get the second ticket for free”, I did a search on their website and could not get the discounted seats, the price displayed was for 2 full-priced seats.

Having no Twitter account and generally bad email response times I posted a message on the FlyDubai Facebook page but got no replies. I then started a chat using their Facebook page messenger link to inquire about the issue.

After this response I asked the customer service agent if there’s a way to find out which dates actually qualify for the promotion and the response was:

“ Hello Louis, We apologise that you were unable to locate the special offer fares you’ve tried so far. Please try other possible flight dates for your travel itinerary. Thank you for your patience, -agent name”

So basically to be able to qualify for the discount you have to do a an extensive (someone want to build a script for that?) search of flight combinations to check which combinations work. No thanks!

2- Do not abuse your mailing list and dilute your offers

Recently FlyDubai has been sending so many promotional emails that all offers have lost their meaning. You cannot promote a limited offer if 2 days later there’s another limited offer.

Limited offers while pseudo-infinite supplies last

Customers are not stupid and they wise up to this tactic. First people stop being excited about the offer, second, on the company side, the offers become less enticing as it’s not possible to have a deep discount every day.

3- Have the processes and tools to respond

If you have spent time to create a marketing or revenue uplift campaign, sent it to the customers, had them open it, read it, and then they actually want to take advantage of this offer, why not make it easy for them to do so? Do not fail at converting!

One more example from a botched FD campaign. I was flying on an economy seat and got the below email with an upgrade offer:

Hello Flydubai? This is the 1990s calling!

When I click on this “Upgrade Now” button instead of being able to select my business class seat and pay for the upgrade, an EMAIL is generated requesting the upgrade. No one knows how the payment would be done (most probably an agent would call me and would have to do it on the phone).

When did I receive a reply back from Flydubai for the email I sent? 
After I arrived at the destination. Fail!

If you are in a startup, you don’t have the luxury of making these mistakes. Every friction you add to the customer experience will decrease your likelihood of success.

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