Free printed guide books and random surprises from KLM this summer

Dutch national airline KLM is developing a reputation when it comes to digital media campaigns that combine the online, virtual environment with the offline, real world. Examples include a Delft Blue Tiles livery based on Facebook profile pictures, passengers who are randomly surprised with a personal gift, a commercial flight exclusively sold via Twitter, and free customized luggage tags. In the past weeks, the airline has launched several more “OFF=ON” initiatives.

Hard-copy customized city guides
KLM currently lets the public create and customize their own travel guide, to be printed and delivered to their home address for free. Visitors to the KLM Cityguide website can select the sites, activities and hot spots they would like to visit at their destination via a number of questions. The final result is then turned into a pocket-sized guide that consists of 3 chapters (and 12 activities in total) and a map. The printed city guides can be ordered by residents of 10 European countries, as well as the United States and Canada. Delivery is within 4 weeks. For other countries, the personalized city guide can be downloaded as PDF file. KLM’s free hard-copy guides were so popular that heavy traffic caused the website to go offline on the first day of the campaign.

KLM Surprise, summer edition
In a follow up to the very successful ‘Surprise’ campaign, which took place at the end of 2010, KLM has just launched the KLM Surprise ‘Summer Edition’. Combining social media with real-world interactions, the KLM ‘Surprise team’, consisting of staff from the airline’s E-commerce, Ground Services and Inflight Services departments, from mid-July to mid-August randomly surprises passengers with ‘little acts of kindness’ based on information found on the passenger’s social network profile(s) or in recent tweets. Since most people have profiles on social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin these days (in fact, more Americans now have Facebook accounts than have passports) it is relatively easy to find some interesting facts about a person in order to come up with a creative surprise.

Random acts of kindness that the KLM team has surprised passengers with so far include a free business lounge voucher, a tea box for a tea aficionado, magazines for a passenger on his way to attend a Formula 1 race and earplugs for someone with a snoaring colleague. In this edition of KLM Surprise, the surprise gifts also take place onboard KLM flights. For more, see this video of the 2010 campaign.

Facebook meal reviews
KLM is among a few full-service airlines in the world (which include ANA and Hawaiian) to offer premium ‘gourmet’ meals for a fee in Economy on long-haul flights. The airline in May 2010 launched a pilot program in which economy class passengers onboard its long-haul flights have the option to purchase a premium ‘a la carte’ meal, instead of the usual free meal service. From September 14, 2011 these paid gourmet meals will be a regular option on KLM’s intercontinental routes departing Amsterdam (except flights to Toronto, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Cairo). The upgraded meals, which cost EUR12 to 15, include Japanese, Italian and Indonesian dishes  and can be ordered from 90 days up to 48 hours before departure. According to Peter Verheijde, product strategy manager at KLM, the airline expects a take up rate of the premium meals of 3 to 5 percent.

Using word of mouth to promote the new paid gourmet catering offer, KLM is offering its Facebook fans flying with the airline in the coming months the opportunity to test the gourmet meals for free on their flight. In return, the passenger has to review the meal on his or her Facebook page. In KLM’s words: “We are looking for food critics! Are you passionate about food and writing and willing to leave a review on our Facebook wall, we will book you a free a la carte meal on your next flight. Fans Only!” As there is a risk that this ‘user generated’ approach may backfire (although passengers with a negative experience will voice their opinions online anyway), KLM deserves credits for promoting its new offer in a transparent and authentic way.

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