In my role as Director USA I am responsible for the passenger sales and marketing organization. Our USA Headquarters are based in Long Island and our office in the Empire State Building is home to the New York sales team. We have established gateways and teams in Boston, Chicago, New York (JFK and EWR), Miami and Los Angeles and I am very pleased to work in this dynamic and challenging marketplace.
As a Country Manager, opening a new gateway is truly a highlight. For me the preparation for the launch of our new SWISS San Francisco – Zurich flight revolved around three key themes - teamwork, timelines and excitement. The whole USA team was thrilled when they heard the announcement that we were expanding our USA network, especially when they caught a glimpse of the “flower power” aircraft design.
The process began with detailed analysis and estimates to evaluate the viability of the operation. Once the decision was made and the start date announced it was full steam ahead and a USA action plan was devised by working closely together with Sergio Carin, project lead for the start-up and based in Zurich. The count down to 02 June was running and immediately the pressure was felt to attract passengers and generate bookings.
One of the initial events to plan was the announcement of the new flight, in December 2009, in San Francisco by SWISS senior management. The excitement shared by our colleagues at San Francisco International Airport, in the San Francisco Mayor’s office, in Switzerland Tourism and within the Swiss Community in the Bay Area was very evident, and the realization that we could harness this to build support and drive awareness was a great boost. With an extended team onboard we could intensify the promotion and awareness campaign activities. As San Francisco and Zurich are sister cities there are many established links that we all can benefit from.
At the same time we began to position our SWISS San Francisco based sales team. Recruiting and training new Account Managers, who will be the face of SWISS and responsible for contracting new business, is an intense process. I am proud to state that we now have three Account Managers, focusing specifically on promoting and selling the new flight, Zurich, Switzerland and the SWISS network. Identifying and targeting customers is a pivotal task and the whole USA team has responsibility to sell the new flight to existing customers and to develop a new customer base.
Simultaneously, the business development, marketing and pricing teams were working hard on this project to determine and publicize the schedule, the product and the prices to our customers. We held brainstorm sessions to generate creative and innovative ideas. With limited budgets and resources we are in many cases the catalyst to bring partners together and combine efforts. We are delighted by the creativity of our colleagues in Marketing in Zurich and the sense of fun that permeates the launch campaign.
We also focused with Corporate Communications on how we could use Public Relations to best effect. Our targeted media have been keen to cover the journey of the start up to the new service and now with the amazing San Francisco aircraft livery the story line just keeps getting better. It was fantastic to hear, that the A340 aircraft operating the first flight is fitted with our new business class, state- of- the art seats.
The first arrival of the aircraft with registration HB-JMJ in San Francisco is now part of SWISS history. The very special welcome radiated the warmth of the distinctive Californian hospitality and we certainly have, as Scott McKenzie sang in the famous song, “people in motion” in San Francisco. I am confident that we will be very successful with the new flight, and we all look forward to welcoming our customers onboard.