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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 16, 2009
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High Ambition
September 16, 2009    wersja polska »
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Paweł Pudłowski, Executive Vice-President (Commercial) of LOT Polish Airlines, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

How successful was the Wonders of Warsaw (WOW) weekend promotion and did it meet your expectations?
The Wonders of Warsaw initiative, started this summer by LOT with the Warsaw Destination Alliance, seven five-star hotels and Hotel Reservation Services, was moderately successful. The promotion is still continuing, and although initial results are encouraging, they have not fully met our target. We wanted to show European customers how beautiful our capital is. Our ambition was to invite as many people as possible for the weekends, especially in summer months, when our capital has a lot to offer.

However, in our defense, it must be said that to promote WOW we only used our direct mailing customer base in selected target capitals where we were making the offer available. New initiatives always take time to become popular and reach the target audience. When the promotion ends we will sit down with the WDA and the other partners and see how we can improve the promotion next time. City breaks are an important part of the travel business. This is also significant from other perspectives, such as cultural and political.

Do you plan to repeat the WOW promotion at other times of the year?
We are looking into that but we do not have any plans yet. We like the idea of bringing people here to Warsaw and it fits into our belief that we are more than just a business. Even though business has to be our first priority to ensure the company is profitable, LOT is one of Poland's icons and is an advertisement for Poland abroad.

What other plans does LOT have to increase travel to Warsaw and how do LOT packages compare with those offered by other airlines?
We are undertaking many initiatives in international markets, not only European, but also Atlantic. We have a very good and loyal customer base in the U.S. and Canada. We are developing our product range in terms of food, ticket prices, and we are working on providing even better service in the air.

We are very competitive, especially for Warsaw. We have direct flights from Warsaw to 50 European cities and three transatlantic destinations: Toronto, Chicago and New York. Being the only airline in Poland that flies directly makes our package pretty unique.

In terms of the standard of travel, we are comparable with traditional airlines. Of course, our fleet is smaller-we currently have six Boeings 767s. Our food is very good and we have recently introduced a new menu prepared by Robert Sowa, who is the celebrated chef at the Sobieski Hotel, so we hope our customers will notice that. I think that Polish food, even if it has some accents of European, modern and fusion cuisine, somehow stays faithful to Polish traditions. Also, we have a very good crew; our pilots are the best in the world. For a long time they have been winning international competitions in their field.

We believe that the future lies in the internet in terms of promotion and we are working on how to best use this medium, including developing a new layout and a more user-friendly navigation around our website.

While our packages are predominantly geared to the Polish traveler, together with the WDA, we want to develop bigger and better packages for our international travelers.

What proportion of LOT travelers are foreigners and how many are Polish nationals?
This varies at different times of the year. However, I would say about 70 percent of our customers are Polish. In terms of business vs. leisure travelers, the economic crisis, which has hit the travel industry, has introduced a few changes. For example, business passengers who used to travel in business class today are flying economy.

Why isn't LOT flying its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners yet?
The supplier has encountered production problems and there is a two-year delivery delay. We expect the Boeing 787s will now be delivered at the end of 2010. This has forced us to modify our plans, as it was a major part of what we were to offer our clients.

LOT will be the first network carrier in Europe to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The 787 is a new-generation craft, which will revolutionize the customer experience. It provides an innovative interior environment with higher humidity, wider seats and aisles, and larger windows, greatly improving the overall flying experience.
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