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An interview with the Air New Zealand Fairy

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Social media is a pretty integral part of most airline marketing strategies these days. From the ubiquitous Facebook to the microblogging site Twitter, to photo sharing communities like Flickr and GPS based social applications like FourSquare, the airline industry has embraced "Web 2.0" with mixed results. On Twitter, airline involvement can range from basic brand news, operational updates and lounge membership promotions to grass roots outreach and that favored buzzword of social media buzzwords: "brand engagement" (from what we've determined, to use the old US political parlance, that basically means measuring a brand's effectiveness by how much you want to sit down and have a beer with it).

Although the spectrum of airline involvement in social media is broad and varied, one airline seems to have found a happy medium between traditional promotional activities, while adding an element of fun. Meet the @AirNZFairy, who roves Twitter promising one wish a day to her followers. To find out more about this unique form of brand evangelism, we asked this Kiwi wish purveyor for a brief audience, and she was ever so gracious to grant us our very own wish.

Is there a marketing genius behind the AirNZFairy, or was she conceived of pixie dust and moonbeams somewhere in the wilds of New Zealand? Alternately, can you tell us a little bit of background on the idea of the AirNZFairy account?

I was conceived in response to a tweet in September 2009 - wondering where the Airpoints Fairy lives. "I could do with a few thousand right now." Just two days later I took flight on Twitter, the first ‘random act of kindness’ was a pledge of 500 Airpoints Dollars to the girl who had written the first tweet. I have been sprinkling my fairy dust like mad ever since.

What are examples of some typical wishes that are sent out by followers? What is the most memorable wish you received, and the most memorable you were able to grant?

I am kept very busy carefully selecting one wish to grant every day (unless I am visiting my folks in Fairyland or filling in for the toothfairy). My aim in life is to surprise and delight my followers. Everyday I am amazed and excited by their creativity.

Sometimes the wishes are smaller, sometimes bigger.Some need me to help with a few extra Airpoints Dollars so they can purchase a flight for a special job interview. Others have asked to move up to a new tier status. Bigger wishes have involved flying people to international destinations to surprise their partner or to visit a sick family member for example.

I like to help in any way I can. I have granted Air NZ lollies [candies], in-flight treats, helped with lost Jet Cadet packs and given All Blacks tickets to followers who are as crazy about rugby as I am.

It's often difficult to get all the details behind a wish into 140 characters. What goes into consideration when selecting a wish to grant?

I like to help when a lot of thought has gone into a wish, I like poems, pics, videos, anything fun, things that help people achieve their dreams, and my special favourite, things to do with love!

Other days my wand tells my fairy dust exactly where to land so it can be a little more random.

Does AirNZFairy grant international wishes as well, or are they mostly within New Zealand?

I like to enchant both my NZ and international followers. I especially like Kiwis living abroad who might be a tad homesick or who want a little reminder of NZ.

The AirNZFairy is a wonderful way to surprise and delight Air New Zealand customers and the community at large, not to mention some good web entertainment. Have there been any gaffes or negative feedback?

Fairies don’t really notice the negative – I like to dwell on the good things ;)

Do you have a favorite sports team?

I love the All Blacks, sometimes they need a little magic so I send them extra strength, speed and agility sprinkles.

Do the majority of requests involve Airpoints Dollars, other Air New Zealand products, or other promotional materials?

Everyone loves to travel so plenty of wishes involve Airpoints Dollars, Loyalty memberships, tier requests and Koru Lounge passes.

Air New Zealand are also involved in so many fab sponsorships that I am naturally drawn to talking about those things. I am a passionate supporter of the All Blacks, the World of WearableArt, The Air NZ Wine Awards, the Sevens in Wellington and Winterfestival just to name a few!

We've noticed the AirNZFairy has made personal appearances at Auckland! Has she travelled to other ports in the Air New Zealand system?

Usually I like to work my magic behind the scenes although on very special occasions I make visits in person. Co-hosting the The Air New Zealand Wine Awards was so much fun I am thinking about making an appearance this year at the Sevens in Wellington.

Every body has a boss, even fairies - how are the effects of wishes quantified and/or measured?

I am thrilled when more people follow, retweet and wish me. I also have a special happiness metre in my wings, the more people are happy, the faster my wings fly!

Do you have anything you'd like to say to your adoring fans?

Wish me on Twitter @AirNZFairy. See you there.

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