When a company suffers a PR nightmare, it can be difficult to repair your damaged image and restore the faith of customers in your product. Malaysia Airlines has suffered the worst year imaginable, so the carrier is taking drastic measures to put more fliers in their seats—by offering to give travel agents Rolex watches if they sell more flights.
When most of us hear the name Malaysian Airlines we don’t associate it with pleasant, stress-free travel since this year the airline suffered a pair of highly publicized major tragedies within only 131 days. On March 8, Malaysian Flight 370 disappeared in the vicinity of the Southern Indian Ocean with 239 passengers and crew aboard. Despite a massive search effort, no trace has been found of the plane or those aboard. Then on July 17, Malaysian Flight 17 was shot down over the Ukraine, taking another 298 passengers and crew with it. Being responsible for the deaths of 537 people does not exactly instill confidence in potential future passengers who are shopping for airline tickets.
So what is an embattled airline that hasn’t turned a profit since 2010 supposed to do? In the case of Malaysian Airlines, you offer luxury incentives to travel agents. In a deal with the Consolidated Travel Group, the carrier is giving away one of five Rolex watches priced at $8,000 each and 20 return trips to those travel agents who sell more than $20,000 worth of international tickets on Malaysian Airlines by October 5.
Flight Centre executive Haydn Long called the promotion “not unusual because suppliers often rewarded top-selling agents.” He told The Australian, “I have not heard of Rolex watches before, but it can be a trip overseas on offer. A lot of airlines and hotels do the same thing.”
In the case of Malaysian Airlines, they need a miracle and they need it quickly. According to analysts, the airline will have to undercut the competition on pricing just to get its load factor past 70% and will be de-listed from the Kuala Lumpur exchange by the end of this year. The carrier is set to cut 30% off its workforce, so things are looking pretty grim.
Maybe the magical glow of the Rolex name can help to salvage the fading fortunes of Malaysian Airlines. After all, Rolex is the biggest brand in luxury watches and produces about 2,000 timepieces every day. Those hard-working travel agents could certainly use their own Rolexes since the watches are so well suited to globetrotting activities like deep sea diving in the Caribbean or scaling the Swiss Alps.
If the lucky winners score this Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Watch they’ll be ready to do both, since it comes ready for adventures with a 40 mm 904L stainless steel case, black dial, Chromalight luminescent hands and hour markers, unidirectional black Cerachrom time-lapse bezel and Oyster Glidelock bracelet. Of course it’s water resistant to 1000 feet, since this is a Rolex Oyster.
Yes, the Rolex watch is coveted and desirable, but whether one (or five of them) can save an airline remains to be seen.