From Doha to the World: How Qatar Airways F1 partnership is taking fans to new heights
Qatar Airways, renowned for its exceptional global reach and commitment to excellence, has once again set its sights on the world stage of sports sponsorship. Following its highly successful partnership with FIFA, the airline has now taken flight as the Official Airline partner of Formula 1, solidifying its reputation as a supporter of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. But what sets Qatar Airways F1 sponsorship apart and how do they intend to leverage the partnership?
In this article, we delve into the thrilling realm of Formula 1 and explore how Qatar Airways F1 partnership aims to redefine the fan experience while leaving an indelible mark on the sport. To shed light on this exciting partnership, we had the privilege of speaking with Luke Drake, Vice President of Commercial Partnerships at Qatar Airways, as he shares insights into the brand's strategic approach and ambitious plans for the future.
What is it about F1 that makes it the perfect fit for Qatar Airways?
"As a brand, we position ourselves with globally prominent assets at the top of their food chain. Formula 1 is undoubtedly the pinnacle of motorsports; it emulates the high standards of service that Qatar Airways delivers to our customers around the world daily.
The standards of Qatar Airways and His Excellency Mr Al-Baker are extremely high. So, we must work on top-quality programs, and the shared luxury and global brand characteristics make for a perfect fit between F1 and Qatar Airways ."
How do you plan to leverage the Qatar Airways F1 partnership to improve the fan experience?
"The answer to that is twofold. Firstly, we're excited to announce that Qatar Airways F1 partnership includes being the presenting partner of the Paddock Club. It's essential for us that everyone who comes into the Paddock Club has a great experience.
We want to develop great experiences for our shared customers and fans in the Paddock Club, giving them the best quality access, views of the track, and food and beverage. Our aim is to use our know how and experience in service to keep moving the product quality up in Formula 1.
Secondly, as an airline that travels to over 160 destinations worldwide, we are uniquely placed as a partner for a global sport like Formula 1. We aim to provide fans with a great experience at their favourite races through our Ultimate F1 Fan Packages at qatarairways.com/f1. These are fully integrated travel packages with flights, accommodation and race tickets, and exclusive experiences, including events with F1 drivers, pit lane walks, guided track tours and more.
As a partner for a global sport like Formula 1, we aim to make the most of the synergy between the two and provide fans with a great experience at their favourite races while following their drivers and teams around the world."
Your competitor was a prominent sponsor of F1 for 10 years. What do you think will make your partnership different?
"I think that some of our airline competitors have done a great job when it comes to their sponsorships. They have some fabulous properties within their portfolio. But the way that Qatar Airways conducts itself when it comes to sponsorship and events is very strategically thought out and well-executed. As the Official Airline partner of the recent FIFA World Cup, we delivered a fully integrated activation of our brand and the country. We will do the same for Formula 1.
Our approach to sponsorships heavily focuses on strategic planning and execution to deliver quality tourism to Doha and position it as a global meeting point for major events. Our sponsorships are not passive branding exercises but fully activated opportunities to showcase the airline and the country."
Both Qatar Airways and Formula 1 have ambitious emissions targets. So how do you get fans engaged around your work in this area?
"Actions speak louder than words when it comes to getting people excited about sustainability. Authentic storytelling is crucial in keeping sustainability a top priority which is why it's great to partner with a company like Formula 1 that takes sustainability as seriously as we do. It's essential to keep sustainability goals aligned, from messaging to actions and intentions, and we're fortunate that we have a partner that shares the same priorities.
It's essential to have punchy targets that are taken seriously by organisations. I witnessed this first-hand while at Liberty Media when Formula 1 was developing its sustainability goals.
Formula 1 has managed to keep an entertaining product on the track that delivers different race winners, excitement, and overtaking while using the most technically advanced power units. As a result, the vehicles are not only exciting on track but also delivering against their technological and sustainability goals."
Given that Safety is the number one priority for any airline, do you worry about the danger audiences may associate with motor racing?
"Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams have made tremendous strides in ensuring the safety of drivers. The technical regulations for the cars are world-class, with materials and impact-absorbing composites designed to keep drivers safe in the event of an incident. The introduction of the halo has also been a great protective device for drivers.
In my opinion, Formula 1 is one of the safest environments in the world, with some of the best drivers operating the most technically advanced vehicles. It's an excellent showcase of how engineering and technology can be utilised to implement safe environments for people to operate in. You're right, safety is our top priority, and I see our partnership with Formula 1 as an excellent demonstration of our commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards in everything we do."
You have experience working on all sides of sponsorship, from agency to rights holders and now brand. What is it that makes for a great brand partnership?
"I believe in owning your own space within the sports event or team that you partner with. You need to have a clear and defined role to play so that everyone understands the purpose of the partnership.
That's why Qatar Airways is clear about its role with Formula 1, as they share travel, global travel, and premium standards. We want people to know our role, and in that space, we show up prominently. We focus on what we do best in the airline and travel category and leave other brands to do their own thing.
Defining the purpose and key messaging from the start is essential if you want to save time, resources, and money and ensure a good return on investment."
To learn more about how F1 brands are leveraging their partnerships see our interview here with DHL's Global Brand Leader, Arjan Sissing.