Airline Marketing Case Study: Hawaiian Airlines Drives Passenger Demand

When considering whether or not they should spend their time, energy, and marketing budget promoting a route, an airline will look at dependencies like demand forecasting as well as connectivity at their hubs. They might also look at whether their competition is already offering that route. Once they have identified a marketing opportunity, it is time to start driving demand.

Hawaiian Airlines, which is the tenth largest commercial airline in the United States, saw an opportunity to promote their route between Honolulu, Hawaii and Auckland, New Zealand. And, of course, the Auckland Airport was enthusiastic about increasing passengers. In late 2017 and early 2018, Hawaiian Airlines and the Auckland Airport joined forces with Mastercard to help Hawaiian Airlines promote their routes from US hubs to Auckland.


To plan their campaign, we looked at both Expedia Group’s first-party data and Hawaiian Airline’s data. Analyzing this data helped determine how we could help them run an integrated advertising campaign targeting US travel shoppers across all US Expedia Group points of sale, including:,, Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, and CheapTickets as well as across other sites, using PassportAds.

The targeting strategy included on-site display ads served via route targeting: display ads featuring the new routes were exposed to travelers who were searching for specific airline routes. We knew which routes to target thanks to the first and third-party data that we amassed in the campaign planning stage.

This campaign also leveraged our offsite, audience extension product: PassportAds. PassportAds engage travel shoppers wherever they browse and book on the internet. Empowered by IP targeting, these ads drove demand from travelers who were looking for airfare originating from Hawaiian Airlines’ major hubs and who were located in specific geographic regions. The campaign also incorporated email marketing to reach potential travelers. Finally, a special Mastercard promotion gave the campaign an edge: ads offered shoppers a $200 Mastercard gift card with their Hawaiian Airlines-via Auckland Airport- route purchase.

Between August 2017 and March of last year, the campaign generated an increase in passenger demand between US mainland hubs and Auckland of forty percent. Hawaiian Airlines saw a significant increase of twenty percent in passenger demand for routes between Hawaii and Auckland, specifically. To top it all off, we named this campaign the North America Airline Campaign of the Year in 2018.

When we run innovative, travel partnership-based campaigns like this one, we are often reminded of the adage: we’re stronger together. In this case, Mastercard offered a compelling offer to travel shoppers while Hawaiian Airlines and Auckland Airport pooled their resources to ensure that their campaign reached the right people at the right time. It seems like the old adage is true.

Learn more about how we work with our partners in the Airline vertical.