Forbes 02/2014: The impact of social media in the travel marketing industry
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2819/2014 @ I‘. -18AM Ii, -’-5-1-. vvevi. 's
The Impact Of Social Media In The
Travel Marketing Industry — Part
+ COMMON‘ NOW
About two weeks ago I scribed a piece entitled The Im act Of Social Media In
The Travel Marketin Indust . The piece touched on some statistics re: the
prevailing use of social media among travelers and on one campaign in
particular from Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
Naturally me being me, and always wanting to learn more, I set out to see what
else was cooking in the world of travel marketing and its use of social media.
Virgin America launches ﬁrst in-ﬂight social network
That was the headline of an article on boston. com not long ago.
‘Wow, the ﬁrst in-ﬂight social network’ I thought to myself. This sounds cool
and I need to investigate, which I did.
What I found was this new social media network, which will begin rolling out
on all domestic Virgin America ﬂights by the end of February, and will allow
passengers to connect via their Linkedln connections with passengers on their
speciﬁc ﬂight, guests on other Virgin America ﬂights in the air, or fellow
travelers at their destination.
In a shining example of a brand actually listening to its customers, Luanne
L, Virgin America's Chief Marketing Officer, said the genesis of this idea
came from passengers themselves.
“When we surveyed our business travelers, we were surprised to leam that the
ability to connect with other Virgin America travelers in-ﬂight or en route to a
destination was a frequent request, ” said Calvert. “ The best business
connections often happen unexpectedly, and we’ve heard many stories of
partnerships and start-up ideas being born on our ﬂights. ”
Back to the Future
Way back in 2012 I wrote a piece KLM: A Company That ‘Gets’ Social Media,
which shed some light on a new KLM program called “Meet & Seat” which
allows passengers to link their social media proﬁles (Facebook and Linkedln) to
their check-in information and choose a seating partner according to their
For that particular piece I had the chance to speak with Martijn van der Zee,
senior VP E-Commerce for Air France-KIM.
Fast forward to today and I reached back out to Martijn to see what new
programs KLM has cooking when it comes to social media. Not surprisingly
after speaking with him again, I am even more ﬁrmly convinced that KIM
absolutely “gets it” when it comes to social media.
Three of the latest programs he told me about were:
- Payment via Facebook and Twitter. Their most recent announcement, this
service or feature allows passengers to book or rebook a ﬂight, make a seat
reservation, or to arrange extra baggage all through either Facebook or Twitter via
one of the 130 KLM social media agents.
- @KLM_Loca. lEyes. This is a new twitter account to inspire travellers with insider
tips Erom local KLM employees. Says van der Zee “Through @KLM_LocalEyes, they
can now access ﬁrst-hand and up to date knowledge of local KLM employees around
the world. ”
- KIM Wannagives. Launched in December, 2013, this allows someone to send a gift
to a passenger, hand-delivered by the crew, while they are in-ﬂight. Gifts range from a
glass of champagne, an extra comfortable seat, a bottle of perfume or bonbons and
For more information on these programs visit klm. com.
Last but certainly not least
There are two “things” I want to share with everyone from my conversation
with Martijn van der Zee for the simple reason every brand, company, C-level,
VP and on and on can learn from it.
The ﬁrst is an anecdote he told me re: when KLM ﬁrst dove into the social
“It was 2010,” he started off. “We had only a simple Twitter and Facebook
account. There was this moment where one of my employees entered my room
and said: ‘we can either pretend the questions aren’t there or we can start
answering them. But be aware: if we start answering, we can never go back. ’
And so we did and we never stopped. ”
Lesson #1: Once you enter the world of social media you cannot exit. Short of
your company going out of business, you must stay active and respond and
engage and not just when things are going well, either. You cannot just answer
the easy questions and ignore the hard ones. There is no pile of sand big enough
on this planet or any other for you to bury your head in.
The second “thing” I want to share from my chat with van der Zee is this
line “We believe we are a guest at somebody elses party. ”
The line came from part of a larger discussion in which he also said “Social is
not a marketing tool as others. Social talks back. We believe we are a guest at
somebody else’s party. Adjust yourself, don’t start spamming others with your
own messages. The nice thing about social media is that it is very honest. You
know when you do well and you sure know when you don’t (do well. ) The
customer is our judge everyday and that's what makes it exciting and
challenging at the same time. "
Lesson #2: You, Mr. and Mrs. Brand, are not in control. You are, as van der
Zee so eloquently puts it, a guest at somebody else’s party. The consumer is
throwing this party. Yes you may be invited but you are surely not exempt from
being shown the door at any moment.
Sources: boston. com, virginamericacom, klm. com
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