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  1. 1. The rise of social media hasSurvey, conducted by SITA and now increated the opportunity not its 14th year, stated that 93% of airlinesonly for airline marketingview investment in mobile services as ateams to reach consumers in new,top priority between now and 2015,engaging ways, but also for consumers and that 58% are planning majorto reach back. The question is whetherprojects. Nine out of 10 airlines alsoairlines are listening and responding.plan to invest in social media by 2015.As most experts will tell you, the secret Further, a recent study conductedto social media success comes fromby the Chaddick Institute ofbeing a part of the conversation. Metropolitan Development, at theDePaul University in Chicago, revealedAirlines alreadythat iPads, Kindles and Nooks accountrecognise the importance of mobilefor 30% of all technology used in flight.communication. The Airline IT TrendsGogo research has found that 153
  2. 2. million passengers had access to the become immediately available forinternet while in flight in 2011.viewing by anyone. For example, a In other words, passengers aresimple search on Twitter for a phraseincreasingly connected in flight and are such as #flying yields a host ofable to communicate with friends,consumers actively talking about theirfamilies and airline staff at the airportflying experience. Ergo, an airline canand in the air.constantly monitor what passengers are praising or complaining about. Recognising the enormousness ofOne of the most prominent social that opportunity, Delta Airlinesmedia tools is Twitter. Its attractiveness launched a specialised customer servicelies in its real-time and public nature. team under the Twitter accountAs users tweet (send brief messages of @DeltaAssist. As passengers tweetfewer than 140 characters) the tweetsabout problems, the @DeltaAssist teame!oicchthee lov
  3. 3. ARE YOULISTENING? choice! thelovefresponds, within an average of 11minutes, and begins resolving thesituation. Most importantly, the team isempowered to take immediate action.Pattie Simone, founder ofWomenCentric.net, interviewed AllisonAusband, vice president of reservationsales and customer care for Delta, lastyear. Ausband commented in theinterview, So the channel [Twitter]really allows us to redirect them[passengers] and reset their travel whenthings do go wrongAs you think i was not tooabout Twitter being that customer happy with my lastsupport channel for us, it truly allows experience with themsomebody from Delta to be with themthroughout the whole travel ribbon.Virgin America is also known forMeetresponding to comments on Twitterandmade by passengers in-flight. In factseatVirgin runs marketing campaignsencouraging passengers to use Twitterwhile flying. Besides the obvious wordof mouth advertising those campaignsencourage, the in the momentcommunication allows Virgin to put afinger on the emotional pulse of flyers.
  4. 4. oice! the chloveTwitter and Facebook are obviousAlthough Facebook is the top social places to start, but many passengersnetwork in terms of site traffic, it does may choose a less popular service.not allow an airline to peek intoFor example, forum sites such aspassengers experiences as easily asFlyerTalk.com act as oases for ardentother social media. To engage with thetravellers, while Planely.com users canairline, flyers must go to its Facebook meet fellow members at the airport orpage and leave a comment. Despite onboard. In order to reach the rightthat, Facebook is still an important tool demographic, airlines must spend timefor allowing conversations to naturally discovering which services theiroccur between people. passengers actively use.Some airlines have also created less Regardless of the site, Shashankconventional approaches to using social Nigam, CEO of airline social mediamedia to improve the flying experience. company SimpliFlying, recommendsFor example, programmes such as that airlines start by being pleasantlyKLMs Meet & Seat and Malaysiahelpful and friendly where passengersAirlines MHBuddy give passengers the are on social media and integrateoption to select seats next to friends or customer service on these platforms.colleagues with whom they are Disruptions such as flight delays areconnected on Facebook or LinkedIn.not uncommon, so being helpful byOne of the challenges with social initiating relevant updates to themedia is in discovering where passengers will make their experienceconversations are taking place online.more delightful.
  5. 5. other hand, JetBlue and airBaltic useThey arent open to the public,Operationally, using social media as a the integrated model, where staff from tweetable and shareable with the clickcustomer service tool represents a shift different departments are trained to of a mouse. Online customer service,for some airlines. Most airlines haveperform social media functions. by contrast, is public, on display.already adopted social programmes, SimpliFlying reported last summerHowever this double-edged sword alsobut as part of the corporate that airline social media team members allows airlines to receive recognitioncommunications department. Airlinesrespectively represented the following for compliments and expressions ofneed to invest in moving offline departments: 44% were corporategratitude for a job well done.customer service teams and processes communications, 30% marketing, 13% Further, the mind-set to effectivelyto an online environment. That shift customer service, 9% e-commerce andlead social conversations is different tomeans investing in training and social 4% interactive. In his best-selling book the marketing views of years past. Withcustomer relationship management Good to Great, Jim Collins teaches the consumers empowered by social(CRM) resources such as Radian6 andimportance of the right people on theplatforms, airlines must earn trust andSimplify360, which allow the team to team. As social media is increasinglyrespect as a participant within alisten, measure and ultimately engageused as a customer service tool, expectcommunity where a single post, tweet,better.to see more members of the team come video or comment can garner nationalNigam adds, In a brief study that from a customer service rather than aattention and rebuke.we did last year, there are twomarketing background.The moment that helped pushoperation models that the top airlines Culturally, using social media as asocial media initiatives to the forefronton social media use. Virgin Americacustomer service tool requires was the closure of European airspaceand WestJet use the dedicated modelembracing a certain amount of loss ofdue to the Icelandic volcanic eruptionwhere staff are assigned to performcontrol. Offline customer servicein 2010, states Nigam. This saw asolely social media functions. On thecomplaints are handled in private. marked change in the social media
  6. 6. landscape for the aviation industry.Suddenly, social media was important,relevant and worthwhile. No longerwas it just a channel for marketing; itwas an important engagement and real-time information dissemination tool tocustomers.Thesocial revolution is no longer any suchthing. It has become a daily habit formany travellers. The only revolution isthe one occurring within the airlineindustry to embrace customer servicevia social media, make use of theavailable tools, and engage in theconversation. ice! cho thelove