Private jet booking site privatefly.com, pilot training site usebeforeflight.com and Cranky Flier, a blog, are among this year's victors in The Webbies, Flightglobal's annual aviation web awards.
The Webbies, now in its third year, celebrate the best and brightest in aviation websites and their social media activities and had three new categories: Online Campaign of the Year, to honour the website that demonstrates a creative approach to online marketing to promote a brand, product or initiative; Launch of the Year, recognising the company or individual who has achieved the most impactful launch of a new online development during the year; and Best Use of Digital Technology awarded to a site that has reached a wider audience online through its digital strategy.
Privatefly.com won the category of Best Website, for its simple design, efficient functionality and broad community participation. In the Best Use of Digital Technology category, the judges chose Usebeforeflight.com as its winner because it is was "unfussy and achieves its objective quietly and convincingly. Clearly the front-runner", and CrankyFlier won Best Blog for tackling complex topics using simple language that readers can easily understand.
The Webbies includes established industry leaders and striving newcomers and everyone in between. We asked flightglobal.com users to enter or nominate their favourites in the six categories.
Our judging panel had to make some tough choices from hundreds of quality entries to find the top three in each category.
Here are the rest of the winners....
Website of the Year was judged by Michael Targett, Online Digital Development Director, Flightglobal (@mtargettuk) and Ludo Van Voren, Chief Executive, Aerospace eBusiness (@ludozone)
In first place: PrivateFly.com
The judges said: "One of the benefits of Internet is that it can solve challenges that cannot be addressed in any other way, offering the possibility of truly industry changing innovation. PrivateFly is taking on the very hard subject of global transparent pricing and online booking of private jets. It does so with a simple design, efficient functionality and broad community participation. PrivateFly has the potential of changing Business Air Charter in the same way iTunes changed the music industry. As its community grows, so will its functionalities and before you know it, this website will be the de-facto standard for private jet booking.
NB: The judges, in this category, offer high commendations to a business website and also to a consumer site instead of a second and third place.
Highly commended Business to Consumer Website – Vueling.com
The judges said: "Veuling’s website focuses on what the private traveler wants: simplicity and efficiency. The design is clean with a lot of innovative display functionalities such as the Price Calendar. They combine that with strong functions such as “Lock that airfare” and smart customization for returning customers. Although the field of low airfare carriers is crowded, Vueling shows its competition what a superior customer experience can be."
Highly commended Corporate Website – Boeing.com
The judges said: "The new website that Boeing launched in 2010 was more than a new online “face” for the company; it was a radical cultural change for the aerospace giant. Beyond the clean design and simple structure of the site, it first and foremost managed to put a human face on the corporation. It brought its entire audience of customers, prospects, investors, employees, and the general public inside its inner workings.
"It began to engage in genuine online conversations on multiple fronts, a remarkable step for a company traditionally steeped in information rationing and control. Not every aerospace company might have the means to produce such a wealth of content, but this website’s vision, direction and execution provides lessons many Aerospace corporate online presence could benefit from."
Online Campaign of the Year was judged by Shashank Nigam, Chief Executive, SimpliFlying (@simpliflying)
In first place: Love is in the Air
The judge said: "Great airline marketing strategies are built on the shoulders of smaller successes. Only when multiple niche markets are targeted well, does the airline fill up the plane well. Through this campaign, SAS Scandinavian targeted the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community well – a small, but often rich community, to showcase how friendly the airline is towards this specific group.
"Especially because not too many airlines are daring enough to enter this market so boldly. Moreover, by encouraging participants to create and upload content by themselves, and then requesting votes - the campaign leveraged "the cult" really well. The final success factor was the real-world completion of the contest, where the whole flight was filled with gay couples. Once again, closing the loop with something that is often overlooked in online marketing. Overall, a commendable niche marketing campaign."
In second place: airBaltic
The judges said: "airBaltic created one of the most engaging Christmas marketing campaign last year - one which had I personally shared with my twitter followers too. It was the perfect Xmas campaign not just because it featured a very cute Santa, but also didn't try to over-sell.
"The latter is a common mistake that turns off customers. Importantly, viewers still became familiar with airBaltic destinations by spinning the globe and hopefully booked them for their next trip. A very entertaining and timely campaign, though I'm curious how airBaltic surprises us next time round."
The judges said: "Green flying has been all the rage in the last year, yet consumers have not had clarity on what specific steps they can take, and what impact efforts by airlines are having. Enviro.aero puts out all of this information in a succinct and engaging way. Their beginner's guides as well as the blog allows anyone to come up to speed with the latest in simple ways."
Launch of the Year was judged by Kevin O'Toole, Flightglobal's Director of Strategy and Alan Peaford, President of the British Association of Communicators in Business (@Grandpois)
In first place: Bombardier
The judges said: "[This site] delivers the style and sophistication that you feel really should be the there in the world of avaition. Gives consumer sites, such as the car makers, a run for their money as indeed aerospace should. It offers a comprehensive introduction to a new class of aircraft. With a broad based introduction making great use of graphics the site sets the scene for the new aircraft. A full stock of information too that is easily absorbed. Hits its mark!"
In second place: AirTransparency
The judges said: "I even had a tear for the story of the murder victim. The site is putting something back into aviation in terms of grass roots feedback – airlines ignore at your peril. This is good, sensible stuff.
"It is well done and can’t fault the mission to put some perspective back into the US attitiude towards airlines. Clear that there is real enthusiasm here combined with a sound professional perspective. The idea of changing attitudes one visitor at a time is attractive although spreading the message might benefit from more traffic!"
And in third place: Flight Africa blog
The judges said: "A refreshing initiative which gives African aviation a fresh, professional voice. Traffic is relatively low but building and the enthusiasm and ambition of the team shows through.
"This site has great potential in what is after all the next big thing in growth markets."
Best Use of Social Media was judged by Sergio Mello, Chief Execuitive, SatisFly (@sergiofly) and Jon Ostrower, Flightglobal's FlightBlogger (@flightblogger)
In first place: Pratt & Whitney Canada's PT6Nation
The judges said: "PWC has successfully started the first OEM-run social network, stepping outside the bounds of the established networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but harnessing their integration. PWC has formed a niche community around its "PT6 nation" of 6000+ operators, by stepping past the traditionally conservative and risk-averse corporate culture that can slow the adoption of social media strategies. PWC has successfully developed a B2C tool to connect with its customer base in an open digital medium."
In second place: Aviation Training Directory
The judges said: "The Aviation Training Directory was awarded the second prize because it uses new media to foster fair competition and revitalize the aviation training market.
"The ATD platform is highly integrated with every social and digital media channel with the purpose of distributing industry news and training courses inventory in real-time. Starting from a simple supply-meets-demand marketplace concept, this platform brings transparency to an otherwise closed market and proves beneficial to the whole community, where buyers and providers are now empowered to switch side at their convenience."
And in third place: I Wanna Go Through SFO!
The judges commended this site for "its use of social media by promoting San Francisco International Airport as an alternate airport from Los Angeles International Airport for Australia and New Zealand business travelers. Using an original video posted on Youtube, the campaign garnered more than 30,000 views, as well as mainstream media coverage in the USA Today, New York Times and National Public Radio.
"The campaign also features a cameo by then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as part of the the video. The campaign also helped sway the behavior of an international carrier that had planned to abandon its service to SFO, ultimately postponing the airline's departure by 15 months."
Best Use of Digital Technology was judged by Jim Muttram, RBI Managing Director (@jmuttram) and Dominic Duffy, Chief Executive, Ceros (@dominicduffy)
In first place: www.usebeforeflight.com.
The judges said: "There's nothing fussy about the site (a good thing) and it seems to achieve its objective quietly and convincingly. Clearly the front-runner.
"This site is very focussed and sets out to do one thing very well. From the testimonials it seems they perform a very valuable function for Airbus pilots and the web technology does offer a considerable benefit (£3.75 an hour vs. £200 in a Sim). The site design is not very flashy but seems well liked by the audience and the flash training screens seem to go their job very efficiently. This gets my vote because it is web technology being used to solve a real problem for the benefit of aviation."
In second place: ATP Navigator
The judges (who were given login details to explore the site) said: "It is quite impressive. The design is dated and the functionality a little clunky but I can see this being valuable to maintenance companies and putting the software online as a real benefit compared to the offline database system that preceded it. It seems very comprehensive and I very much like the Ask Bob feature - very customer focussed."
And in third place: CroatiaAirlines
The judges said: "The website was also very comprehensive but with the central purpose of booking seats, appeared very much front and centre. There was also an interactive map which focussed on pushing tourist features of various Balkan cities.
"A clean, no-frills site that appears to do what it says on the tin."
Blog of the Year was judged by Flightglobal's own Mary Kirby, Senior Editor Americas, (@runwaygirl) and Addison Schonland, Chief Executive, IAG (@aschonland)
In first place: Cranky Flier
The judges said: "Crankyflier is an invaluable resource for travellers. Cranky manages to take even the most technical subject matter and break it down into language that readers can easily understand. His readers are clearly appreciative, and comment en masse on his blog posts. Cranky also cleverly uses the blog as a springboard to generate business for his Cranky Concierge service.
In second place: MzeroA
The judges said: "A highly-focused blog, MzeroA provides an excellent resource for pilots and would-be pilots alike. Even though the blog is heavy on valuable content, and uses a broad spectrum of social media tools, its layout is bright, clean and very easy to navigate. I particularly like the “email” option, whereby MzeroA will deliver “flight secrets” right to your inbox.
And in third place: Airline Reporter
The judges said: "AirlineReporter is a truly unique blog in that the author is learning about aviation right along with his readers. Aviation is clearly his passion, but there is no pretence to the delivery. As such, everyone from aviation newbies to experts can find something to enjoy here. AirlineReporter is also quite adept at using Twitter to drive traffic and engage readers. His enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious!