When the forward door closed, the flight attendants had started distributing trays of welcome drink choices. Walking along the cabin as warmly smiling, intended for casual chit-chat I was let to choose the drinks. “Good Morning Mas Danang, Would you like a glass of champagne, apple, orange or martebe?”. I responded quick as smiling and said, “Sure I’ll take the Martebe.” The middle-aged lady in her light green uniform smiled saying “Perfect choice, this is a local taste, Mas” Meanwhile, a guy sat next row to me, Korean was stunned after the first sip of a glass of Martebe (Passion Fruit) which represents the Indonesian sweetness.
On my flight overseas before, I’m used to chat with my seat mates or new friends (if any) I met on board. We’re mostly talking about our journey experience and our particular the interests to aviation, knowing that most people must like to fly. It’s always a different view from the top. When I asked them, why did you choose Garuda as the carrier? some of them used to say;
“I fly Garuda because their flight attendants are friendly, despite descent facilities”,
“I fly Garuda to my overseas destination as of more efficiency, no transit needed,”
Those several answers used to be addressed years ago when Garuda still remained in their blue carpet and cushions until last year when Garuda had started to change. I had embraced to my conclusion for a long time before that in spite of Garuda reputation used to be destroyed only one or five big major crashes, Garuda still receives many hearts left from their loyal customers.
On the contrary; just based on what I had studied about Airlines Consumer Behavior in Indonesia for my University paperwork a year ago, the results says; no doubt to say that many Indonesians – Indonesian Consumer behavior typical — that carries more pride on using foreign products rather than their locals’. We may observe the phenomenon based on their making of Airlines choices. Singapore Airlines; however became the top of mind during the mention of which airlines do you prefer to fly? I should understand why Singapore Airlines became the top of mind for International Routes, since they serve more destinations worldwide.
“In my opinion, Garuda is one of the toughest airline I know”
However, there must be reason why Garuda used to decrease their service expense to serve the customer in light of its effort to get through survival periods, overdue by debt, and dropped reputation had been experienced by Garuda Indonesia. There’s a lot to learn from this Airline, especially its survival striving. Although there are many problems shivering the company, but the airline still moves on track. The survival period which mostly covered in efficiency program. Moreover, during the survival periods, Garuda still received many achievement such as Indonesian Customer Satisfaction Award (ICSA), Top of Mind Award, The Most Word of Mouth Company, and many more. As I quoted from this airline policy which becomes the top most important value is safety. Garuda is very strict on its safety policy that can’t be bargained.
Great enlightenment exposured once ‘Garuda Experience’ had been launched. Not only by new planes and amenities, Garuda was awarded as the most improved airline after all the fights. On December 29’th, Garuda service rank has been improved by Skytrax from a three-star to be a four-star Airline. And yet, the flight ban of Garuda Indonesia by the European Union finally became the major relieve for the airline. After strengthen the company with new Airbus, and Boeing 737-800NG, they returned to Amsterdam receiving many great applauses and appreciation as there were many Garuda loyal customers had missed its presence after six years hiatus.
My say about Garuda well-reputation through Public Relations sight
As the Airline’s big fan, and above of all, as an Indonesian, I’m very proud of the great achievement of the Airline. Garuda Indonesia somehow has succeeded to create well-being reputation and remain it in spite of many accusations and negative assumptions throughout the public. They handle crisis very well, they manage relationships with stakeholders very well.
Let’s take a look through Public Relations perspective in Indonesia, we may take this Airline as a good sample. On top of that – in Indonesia — Airline business is not merely looking the service physically, we need to twist that perceptions. Safety is number one and the kindly assistance and how they handle the customer well and put it in a great value of reputation. Some say that Public Relations function in Airlines might be restricted by many policy and driven enough by the top management. Somehow, its not definitely true. Public Relations function tends to integrate what the company has to offer to public, and speaking of which integration we need to look out is the communication, the Industry knowledge themselves, how to make public concerns that we have to change.
If there’s an Airline that looks stable or welfare-alike from the outside doesn’t always mean they have quiet learned any experience to survive in which they haven’t experienced any. In fact, survival effort mostly proven by major Airlines which had suffered by the recent global economy crisis. Garuda Indonesia may slightly affected by the impact of global economy crisis on its International routes but they are still capable to overcome by pushing the revenue through domestic market.
Indeed, this may relate with the proverb; success is like a wheel. Sometimes you’re on top, and sometimes you are down the bottom. It’s like a rocket circle, when you are launched first, doesn’t mean the last one down off the ground can’t be launched up. It’s just a matter of time.
“If there’s one down by the crisis, There should be another one stands up for grace”
Overall, hard work is paid by good results. The latest achievement for Garuda Indonesia as the best airline in South East Asia, based on CAPA: Center for Asia Pacific Aviation survey proves its Integrity in Aviation Industry. It is yet too fast to say we’re proud on making the achievement;especially beating the Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia has returned, undeterred with their commitment to be the first, and well-known in the world. The award which has given after the fast move – instead of no-action-talk-only movement– In my opinion, Garuda deserves to be learnt by every Industry on how retaining its good will amidst crisis, undetermining comments, and cynicism over the public.