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Finnair innovates its operations in China based on a student’s research

Finnair has started flight ticket sales directly via the social media WeChat.
Finnair was the first European airline to have flight ticket sales directly via its official WeChat account in China.

Aalto University School of Business Master’s student in Strategy Yu Chuqiao conducted research at Finnair on its social media practices in China. This research, which was done in autumn 2017, was also the basis for Chuqiao's master thesis “How social media is used to engage with Chinese consumers A study on WeChat in the airline industry”.

‘The goal of the study was to provide detailed view on airlines’ practices on Chinese social media. The study aimed to provide analysis on latest data to support Finnair’s development in China, especially on how to engage with Chinese consumers innovatively’, tells Chuqiao.

The entire booking process is now completed on the same platform

Based on the student’s study, Finnair launched flight ticket sales directly via its official WeChat account in China and was the first European airline to do so. Finnair customers are now able to search for Finnair flight tickets, book their flights and complete their purchase with WeChat Pay, all directly through Finnair's official WeChat account. WeChat was selected because it’s the largest social media in China having more than 900 million daily users.

‘This research has been extremely useful for Finnair. Yu Chuqiao provided us with much needed insight into the Chinese travel tech landscape, which helped us innovate our operations in China’, says Rogier van Enk, Vice President Digital Revenue & Distribution, at Finnair. 

According to Juha Järvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair, China is one of Finnair's most important markets, and the company wants to be where its customers are.

‘Enabling ticket sales through WeChat and enabling WeChat Pay are important steps in better serving our customers in this rapidly growing market’, he says.

While studying leading European and Chinese airlines’ practices on social media, Chuqiao interviewed many airline business experts from different commercial teams at Finnair. By doing so, she wanted to make sure that the study is relevant to the teams and supporting their decision-making.

‘This case is a great example of how our students can impact the competitiveness of Finnish companies, their innovation abilities and their internationalisation”, comments post-doctoral researcher Fernando Pinto Santos, who supervised the thesis in the International Business unit of the Department of Management Studies at the School of Business.

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