SimpliFlying Featured: Social Evolution

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Airline Business, March 2013- As more airlines engage with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, those that want to stay ahead must embrace opportunities offered by mobile and on-board wi-fi in order to transform their social media relationships into real-world loyalty

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SimpliFlying Featured: Social Evolution

  1. 1. MARKETING FEEDBACK SOCIAL EVOLUTION As more airlines engage with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, those that want to stay ahead must embrace opportunities offered by mobile and on-board wi-fi in order to transform their social media relationships into real-world loyalty Face it – social media is buy-in for future marketing initiatives. dead. There are more American Airlines allows travellers than 200 airlines on to view movies from an in-flight server Twitter, and the space is on their own devices, which they can cluttered. Mere contests and free tick- watch within 24h, even in the hotel. ets are no longer enough to drive en- About 74% of business travellers and gagement. Too many airlines are trying frequent fliers own smartphones, and to woo travellers in the same old ways. many travellers take laptops or tablets Airlines will need to stay ahead of with them on holiday. In-flight enter- the competition by identifying key busi- tainment needs to evolve with these re- ness goals, such as loyalty. They need to alities, especially on short-haul or low- engage the traveller in a specific man- cost airlines. Passengers would rather ner, often via mobile phones, rather be glued to their own devices than fid- than social media alone. The bridge be- dle with the screen in front of them. tween social and real-world relation- In a study SimpliFlying conducted ships will need to be built, as travellers with Cranfield University in 2011, 72% become more connected than ever. of participants said they would join a In-flight wi-fi provider Gogo says “Real-world social loyalty programme – where they more than 200 million travellers board- would get real-world rewards for online ed a wi-fi-equipped flight in the USA in relationships can go actions. Today, you can earn miles on 2011. This number is set to grow mani- a long way online” United Airlines, Virgin America and fold in 2013, as heavyweights such as SHASHANK NIGAM JetBlue just by “checking in” to their Emirates and Lufthansa breathe life into Chief executive, SimpliFlying Foursquare or Facebook locations. their in-flight wi-fi offerings. In fact, Last year, SimpliFlying helped Esto- Turkish Airlines is already experienc- The recent SimpliFlying Airline So- nian Air and BalticMiles pioneer the ing more than 30% take-up rate for its cial Media Outlook 2012 report re- world’s first social loyalty programme free wi-fi service on its Boeing 777s. vealed that the top business goals of and crowd-sourced membership level This means travellers will be con- social media are aimed at brand en- respectively. This trend is set to grow, nected throughout their journey – from gagement, customer service and reve- especially as most travellers carry gadg- leaving home in wi-fi-equipped taxis nue. These efforts will have to be in- ets that allow them to engage in online and buses, to the airport that provides creased further in 2013, as the advocacy in return for incentives. free wi-fi and, finally, in-flight too. connected traveller becomes a reality. Our study shows that 75% of airlines This would dramatically change the Airline marketing will have to evolve plan to increase social media budgets in way airlines market to travellers – from from mere social media contests to 2013. To stand out from the crowd, a lot customising in-flight entertainment supporting key business functions. of funds will have to be focused on serv- based on their YouTube browsing his- On 1 December 2012, Carrie Bick- icing the connected traveller, building tory, to allowing them to order duty-free more was hanging out in the cockpit of real-world relationships and tapping or even purchase destination tours in- a Qantas A380 despite previously mak- into the gadgets travellers are carrying. flight via the internet. Opportunities to ing sarcastic comments about the air- Social media as we know it is dead. drive ancillary revenues are immense – line. Bickmore was among 30 social The age of the connected traveller and if airline managers think creatively. media influencers invited by Qantas instant gratification is However, connectivity is a double- for a “tweet and greet”. They had op- here – and airline mar- edged sword. If a passenger hates how portunities to mingle with Qantas mar- keters need to adapt to his meal tastes, he is likely to rant about keting staff to build real-world relation- stay relevant. it on Facebook, along with a photo, ships rather than just social. Qantas is minutes after the meal. Customer serv- looking to repeat the event this year. Shashank Nigam is CEO at SimpliFlying,To read how airlines ice would have to be delivered in a Real-world relationships can go a a brand strategy firm helping airlines andare using social airports engage with travellers through social manner close to real-time to maintain long way in building online advocates.media as more than media. Find out more about its strategya tool for marketing brand affinity. Airlines such as Virgin This also gives senior airline executives consulting and training services at SimpliFlying.visit: flightglobal. America, Delta Air Lines and Turkish a chance to witness first-hand the power com, on Twitter: @SimpliFlying, or emailcom/socialmedia Airlines are already leading the way. of social media, thus creating a better wannalearnmore@SimpliFlying.comflightglobal.com/ab March 2013 | Airline Business | 41

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