WestJet Rebrands Eastern Triangle Product As ‘Simplicity’

Open Jaw

Marshall Wilmot

The competition for business travellers in the YYZ-YUL-YOW (& NYC) triangle is fierce. Carriers have been upping the ante, following PD’s lead, with free beer and wine and more flexible conditions.

WS has rebranded their service on the Eastern Triangle business travel routes with the word ‘Simplicity,’ but creating the conditions for success in this fiercely competitive segment is anything but easy.

Offering frequent, reliable service between Toronto and Ottawa, Montreal and New York City was a logical next step in the evolution of the 20 yr. old airline that started out as a low-cost leisure carrier. But it represents a huge investment and years of work.

“It’s where you’ve got to be,” said WS S.V.P. Marketing & Digital Marshall Wilmot in an interview with Open Jaw. “It is part of our evolution in liberating Canadians from the high cost of air travel, taking the same low fare/high care approach.”

Low fares, while certainly compelling to corporate bean-counters, aren’t enough for frequent business travellers. Frequency, flexibility, convenience, on-time performance and little perks like a free beer or glass of wine are important considerations too.

“Business travel is stressful. If there’s ways to make it easier, we want to do it,” says Wilmot.

An extensive online, radio and out-of-home advertising campaign is accompanying the rebranding. The actual product hasn’t changed much – a premium snack is now offered all day instead of just in the morning – but WS believes its Eastern Triangle product is ready for greater exposure.

“The branding really helps us put a bow around it. We feel the ‘Simplicity’ brand really matches well with what we’re trying to do in these markets, in both languages,” Wilmot says. (In French, ‘Simplicity’ becomes ‘Simplicité.’)

As well as frequency – there are 24 flights each weekday between YYZ and YUL, 22 between YYZ and YOW and 16 between YYZ and LGA – WestJet’s investments in the Plus premium product and the evolution of WestJet Rewards into a tiered program are key elements in competing in the Eastern Triangle market where AC and PD are the main competitors.

Wilmot says WS did a lot of research to identify the things that really resonate with business travellers. What they came up with form the pillars of Simplicity:

  • Flight flexibility– pax can get on the next available flight at no extra charge if their work day ends or extends late
  • 30 min. on-time promise – if flights on Simplicity routes are more than 30 minutes late in arriving, pax receive 25 WestJet dollars as compensation
  • Priority security screening at YYZ
  • Complimentary inflight beer or wine
  • Convenient arrival and departure gates at YYZ 

Wilmot says a business travel air product has to balance its appeal between corporate CFOs seeking savings and the travellers themselves. In other words, lower fares combined with convenience and ease.

“What we bring is pretty relevant. The economy is somewhat challenged and our low fares offer an ‘earline’ to the CFO. The rest of the product makes it simple for the traveller to get there and get home.”

The WS exec says offering 25 WestJet dollars per pax for late flights is something that is “really relevant” to business travellers. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

To help promote Simplicity, WS is offering frequent Eastern Triangle travellers a ‘fast-track’ to the Silver and Gold levels of WestJet Rewards, which offer the ability to earn WestJet dollars faster, as well as other benefits including free flights, free checked bags and lounge access, based on the amount spent annually. Details can be found here.

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