Canadian airline WestJet's idea of holiday cheer during its "Christmas Miracle" event was to stun 250 passengers with their Christmas wishes, and the video depicting the event has gone viral.
A WestJet video posted on YouTube Sunday shows passengers responding to a virtual Santa Claus kiosk while waiting for their flights from Toronto and Hamilton to Calgary, not knowing that WestJet employees in Calgary would rush out and purchase the items they wished for.
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Among the gifts was a 50-inch big screen television for one family, which was waiting for them at baggage claim when they arrived in Calgary. The video, including the shocked reaction from passengers, has more than 8 million views as of Wednesday.
WestJet Vice President Richard Bartrem said in a behind-the-scenes video that 150 volunteers took part in the event, from setting up the clandestine camera and the virtual kiosk to the shoppers who ran out to purchase gifts and wrap them in time for the passengers' arrival.
"Our first (Christmas flash mob video was) last year," Bartrem said. "That was such a wonderful success not just for our guests but the fact that we were able to share that magic with the people watching on YouTube we decided to do it for a second time this year but we changed it up a little it.
"This is all about having a lot of fun with Santa Claus himself and our WestJetters spreading that Christmas cheer to all the people traveling with us. This is a really exciting one for us. We used some technology, more hidden cameras and just made it all about the fun of the season. Our team really knocked it out of the park once again," he added.
Matt Peltier told CTV
that his 2-year-old son Cohen asked for a Thomas the Train set and got his gift, while he and his wife said they wanted a large flat-screen television for Christmas.
WestJet staffers saved the gift-wrapped huge television as part of the grand finale.
"I said 'if that's a TV, I'm going to cry,'" Peltier told CTV on Tuesday. It was.
Patti Derbyshire, a professor at Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business, told CTV that WestJet's marketing event could have a positive effect on the airline for years to come.
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