SOCIAL MEDIA

KLM adds passenger reviews and ratings to flight search results

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Recently, a growing number of online travel agents and airlines have partnered with third-party data providers TripAdvisor and Routehappy to help customers learn more about the quality of their flight.

By sharing candid details of the passenger experience airlines could move beyond commodity pricing and beyond competition solely on fares, instead giving customer fact-based metrics about their products which would justify a higher fare.

There is an important precedent for this change in consumer mindset in the hospitality sector. Today’s informed and savvy travellers are making their hotel choices based on ‘reputation pricing’ —the correlation between a brand’s online reputation and the premium it can charge. This shift from ‘sticker price’ bookings to bookings based on the quality of the experience has been one of the big positive effects of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry.

Rate My Flight
Social and digital frontrunner, KLM is taking transparency to the next level by sharing the feedback it gathers directly from passengers with customers who are looking to book a ticket with the airline.

After extensive experimentation, KLM started showing star ratings and reviews in the search flow of the KLM website in June of this year.

Customers searching for a flight can see the actual reviews from previous passengers who have flown that flight in the past, based on reviews collected from KLM passengers using the airline’s ‘Rate My Flight’ feature. Read full article »

China Eastern trials ‘intelligent personal assistant’ for in-flight service

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By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines

As airlines around the world are currently in the process of developing an digital inflight infrastructure (e.g, Internet connectivity, aircraft intranet, inflight portal) and the latest generation of in-seat IFE systems has adopted the Android platform, the next phase for airlines is to develop innovative applications that differentiaite to the passenger experience.

For example, on the IFE system of its new B787 Dreamliners, Air New Zealand and Panasonic have created a ‘digital crew call button’ app that lets passengers message the crew, as well as a dedicated digital button to order a glass of water and have it brought to their seat.

Similar functionality has now also been rolled out by China Eastern – China’s second largest carrier by passenger numbers. The airline is not using the seat back IFE system, though, but has partnered with Microsoft to develop an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ (東航小冰) intelligent personal assistant.

Intelligent Personal Assistants
‘XiaoIce’ – which translated a ‘Little Ice’ – is an intelligent personal assistant (IPA) launched by Microsoft in 2014. IPAs are software programs that can complete tasks assigned by the user or provide answers to users’ questions.

Currently, the most widely known IPA is Apple’s Siri, which uses voice recognition to send messages, make calls and obtain answers to simple questions, such as those related to the weather and historical facts, on behalf of users.

Microsoft also has developed its own IPAs, respectively called Cortana and XiaoIce. While Cortana provides functions similar to that of Siri and can only be accessed through Windows-based devices, XiaoIce has been developed to be used on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, can be used virtually anywhere. XiaoIce learns from not only past conversations with the user but also those from all around China. With these resources, it can engage in very life-like conversations and has a bit of a funny character of its own. Read full article »

KLM takes ‘social service’ to a new level with #HappyToHelp campaign

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

KLM, known for its savvy social service and innovative marketing campaigns, took both to new levels last week with a bold #HappyToHelp campaign.

Starting with the premise that the best promotion for customer service is great customer service, a dedicated team scanned social media during five days for passengers facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with a creative and relevant #HappytoHelp answer produced and personalised for single passengers in real-time – even when those passengers were not travelling with KLM.

On- and offline
Selected problems would then be solved in a variety of ways, ranging from actual physical intervention, such as helping someone retrieve a forgotten passport and still make their flight, to providing one-to-one advice or information through social media.

During the week, KLM’s social media team could rely on the back-up from a team of fast-producing creative people from KLM’s creative agency Tribal DDB with different skills to produce content. Answers ranged from a simple text message to an Instagram picture, a Vine, or YouTube video.

For example, KLM staff made a wake up call over the phone and offered breakfast at the airport (video here) to a traveller who had to get up early to catch her flight, provided a tailored weather report to a traveller who was unsure what to pack for that last minute trip to Ibiza, and recorded a video with personalized Spanish language lessons to a traveller flying to Mexico.

The airline even hired a speed boat on the Hudson River (video) to help out passengers who risked missing a flight–any flight–due to being stuck in traffic on their way to JFK. “Imagine the impact if you are not flying with KLM but it is KLM that gets to the airport,” says Pol Hoenderboom, creative director at Tribal DDB Amsterdam. Read full article »

KLM’s ‘Lost & Found Team’ aims to return lost items to passengers on the spot

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With nearly 7 million Facebook fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter, and a wide range of social media initiatives, the KLM brand has become synonymous with social media innovation. The latest initiative by the airline is utilizing social media for an instant ‘lost & found’ service.

Instant lost & found
Every week, KLM receives 40,000 questions via social media. One of the most asked questions is about getting lost items back. This inspired KLM to set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge.

The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings. Very often the Lost & Found team is able to surprise passengers by returning their personal belongings before they have even missed them. Despite the challenge of locating the owner, first results show that over 80 percent of the found items can now be reunited with their owners.

How it works
Air France-KLM SVP eBusiness Martijn van der Zee earlier this year explained to Dutch publication Marketingfacts how the new service works.

“The current situation is that if a passenger forgets his or her iPad on board and walks through customs, all we can do is to refer to the airport. This is very frustrating, especially when passengers realize shortly after they have left the aircraft that they have forgotten something, contact KLM and we can do nothing for them. The lost and found process can take a few weeks instead, which gives an enormous bureaucratic feeling. We know this is a weakness and we mostly know that through social media.”

“We have now appointed two people at the airport who constantly look for things that are lost. They walk past the gates to collect items and then try to find the owners on the spot by approaching them, often via social media. In many cases passengers have not even realized yet they have forgotten something and really go out of their minds when they receive their lost item back.” Read full article »

The Social Tree at Singapore Changi Airport lets passengers leave a ‘digital memento’

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Singapore’s Changi Airport has just unveiled an interesting art installation, called The Social Tree, which plugs into a trend dubbed “Life Caching” by trendwatching.com

At close to nine metres tall and 11 metres in diameter, The Social Tree is surrounded by eight touch-screen photo booths that enable travellers to ‘attach’ their photos onto the colourful and animated crown of the structure, which is made up of 64 giant 42-inch high-definition screens. Together, the screens offer a 360-degree display of various animated backgrounds including a mystical forest, a deep sea environment, and the Singapore skyline. Travellers can also post photos and videos taken at the booths on their social networking profiles.

Passengers are encouraged to store their photo/video memories with a unique login & password combination, inviting them to become part of Changi Airport’s history by leaving behind a photo or video of themselves which will be kept for decades to come. Travellers – and their families – can retrieve and re-live their digital memories at Changi Airport from this “memory capsule.”

Comments Yeo Kia Thye, SVP for Airport Operations, Changi Airport Group, “We live in a world where digital communities form part of our everyday life. We see hope to see The Social Tree grow into a digital community at Changi Airport, offering a connection over time for our passengers who may pass through Changi many times in their lives. It also provides a social element for our more than 52 million passengers each year to reach out to family and friends.”

The trunk of The Social Tree is made up of 100 aluminum bars that uses LED lighting, producing an array of colours. The installation is located at the center of Terminal 1, immediately after the immigration counters.

The Social Tree follows the upgrading of Singapore Changi’s Terminal 1 last year which saw the installation of a so-called ‘Kinetic Rain’ sculpture in the Departure Hall of T1.

Passengers on Delta’s ‘Beta Plane’ can submit their ideas via Wi-Fi

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported several times before how airlines and airports are teaming up with the general public in order to generate ideas for new products and services.

As this trend matures, airlines such as KLM, SAS and Finnair have gone beyong incidental crowdsourcing campaigns by launching broad co-creation programs to improve the passenger experience.

KLM ‘Bright Ideas’, for example, asks Facebook fans to share and discuss their ideas to improve KLM’s products and services. Scandinavian Airlines’ ‘My SAS Idea’ is an online community where anyone can share their ideas and others can join in to further improve on each idea. Finnair’s Quality Hunters – now in its third year – invites a select group of enthusiasts to come up with ideas which are then shared online with the larger community.

Delta ‘Ideas In Flight’
In 2011, Delta teamed with “scientists and thinkers” conference TED (slogan: “Ideas Worth Spreading”) to generate innovative crowd-sourced ideas to improve the travel experience. Called ‘Ideas in Flight’, the program uses curated TEDTalks as thought-starters to inspire participants across technology, entertainment, design, etcetera. Ideas could be submitted through a dedicated tab on the Delta Facebook page.

In February of this year, Delta launched the second edition of Ideas In Flight. Similar to the 2011 edition, any Delta Facebook fan could contribute via Delta’s Facebook page and a voting system allows Delta and users to see what ideas are popular, and which ones will be considered to be implemented on the flight.
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Lufthansa lets frequent flyers become the ‘foursquare mayor’ of a route

By Shubhodeep Pal, SimpliFlying

Lufthansa’s “Blue Legends” Facebook app is one of the first ten “Connected Apps” to be offered as a product of Foursquare‘s new development platform. In a nutshell, Foursquare now allows developers to create apps that offer customized experiences to customers based on their check-ins.

Lufthansa has seized this new opportunity in the Foursquare eco system to create official Lufthansa venues (including over 9,000 flights named in the format “Lufthansa Flight LH 400″) where users can check-in virtually to get special badges, ranks and rewards.

For instance, once connected with Foursquare and Facebook, you can earn badges such as the “Early-Bird-badge” by checking in before 6 in the morning. There are more virtual goodies as you fly more on Lufthansa (and, of course, remember to check-in to their official locations).

One of the undeniably attractive features of the app is that its written in HTML5 which allows it to be accessed from almost every platform – desktop and mobile – with ease, without being confined to a closed app ecosystem (such as iOS or Android).

An increasingly “gamified” and location-aware world
As you move up the ladder, you’ll find that the badges and ranks (similar to mayorships) are increasingly targeted towards frequent flyers. Lufthansa believes that this customized experience by offering special virtual badges in recognition for flying the airline will “open a whole new dimension of social travel experience for frequent flyers who can not only track their countries and airports they’ve visited with the app but can compete with their friends to become the “Expert Pilot” on a route between two cities.” This rank is given to the person who has travelled most between two destinations – independent from the Lufthansa flight he took or airport of the city he travelled to.
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SAS promotes free coffee and tea on short-haul flights with design contest

Scandinavian Airlines is one of the few ‘full-service’ airlines in Europe that let passengers in Economy on European flights pay seperately for their drinks and meals. Brussels Airlines and Iberia are among European airlines with a similar catering service on short-haul flights, while no doubt other European full-service carriers are contemplating this concept for their loss-making short-haul operations.

However, as complimentary coffee and tea in Economy is “one of the most asked for products by customers”, SAS at the end of January 2012 reintroduced the free amenity on all its domestic and European routes.

“Free tea and coffee, but the design is up to you”
To promote the introduction of the ‘upgraded’ service, SAS has just launched a public contest for the design of a new paper mug (current design here) to be used on its flights. In the airline’s words: “Now we serve free coffee and tea to everyone on our flights, both domestic and to the rest of the world. You can make sure that we do it in style. Take part in our competition to design the new coffee cups on SAS flights. If your design is the best one, not only will we serve coffee and tea in YOUR design to more than 70.000 passengers every day, but you will also get 100.000 EuroBonus Extra-points.”


Participants in the contest have to use a template for their design and can submit it at flysas.com/design before February 29th 2012. A SAS jury will then select the ten best designs, which will presented on the campaign website www.flysas.com/design and on SAS’ social media channels in the first week of March. After the general public has casted their votes for their favourite design, the winning design will be announced 20 March 2012 and will be featured on the cups for 3 to 6 months.
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KLM offers its Facebook fans the chance to be featured on a ‘Delft Blue’ Boeing 777

KLM has just launched a new social media campaign that invites Facebook users to convert their Facebook profile picture into a Delft Blue tile with an inspiring message. Four thousand of the most inspiring ‘Dutch Delft Blue tiles’ will then be placed on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200. In KLM’s words: “KLM is proud of its Dutch heritage, in which Delftware played a huge role. Now KLM invites you to create your own Delft Blue tile, add an inspirational saying and you might end up on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200.”

Delft Blue tiles are part of the Dutch tradition. The porcelain tiles were decorated with typically Dutch scenes, such as windmills or fishing boats. These Dutch scenes were commonly supported by some words of wisdom or an inspirational proverb. For nearly 60 years, KLM has also handed out small Delft Blue ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class.

The emphasis of KLM’s ‘Tile & Inspire’ campaign is on Facebook, but anyone can also create a personal Delft Blue tile via tileyourself.com and Hyves, the largest social network in the Netherlands. The campaign will run until the end of May 2011 and the tiles with the most creative messages will be selected by a jury of native speakers in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. The final 4,000 Delft Blue tiles will be randomly drawn out of the selected tiles and be featured on a KLM B777-200 aircraft from June 16 on. See this video for more on the campaign.

Update 10 May: KLM reports that in the first two weeks of the campaign nearly 50,000 people have created a personal Delft blue tile. Read full article »

Finnair launches public search for mystery flyers

Finnair’s goal under its new Vision 2020 plan, announced in May 2010, is to be recognized as the number-one airline in the Nordic countries and to be among the three largest carriers in terms of transit traffic between Asia and Europe. In terms of the travel experience, Finnair says it wants to be the airline of choice of the quality- and environmentally-conscious passenger, and that it is looking to answer customer needs and expectations with “open-minded and innovative solutions”. 

In this spirit, Finnair has just launched a public search for four ‘Quality Hunters’, whose task will be to travel to cities in Europe, Asia and the US throughout October and November, assessing flights, airports and destinations. As independent advisors to Finnair, they are expected to communicate their impartial views and recommendations to the company on a regular basis throughout the two-month period.

In addition, the Quality Hunters will share their ‘mystery flyer’ experiences with the public through frequent updates on their personal blog on the Rethink Quality website. At the end of the two months, followers can vote for the Top Quality Hunter. In return, those who vote or comment on the blogs have the chance to win intercontinental flights for two between Europe and Asia with Finnair. Aspiring Quality Hunters can submit their applications online until 26 September 2010 and must be available for travel from 4 October on. 
Read full article »

Airlines, airports and hotels experiment with location-based social networks

Airlines, airports and hotels are starting to embrace the latest trend in social media: location-based social networks. The most popular platform is currently Foursquare, which has 2.7 million users worldwide (of which 60% in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 users per week. Foursquare allows members to share their current physical location with friends via their gps-enabled cellphone when they enter a new location, a procedure also known as ‘checking-in’. Foursquare just reached 100 million ‘check-ins’ and says that the most popular venues are transit-related locations such as airports and train stations.

An important social status element of foursquare are ‘badges’. Points are awarded for ‘checking in’ at a locations, and by checking in frequently, visiting specific locations, or performing tasks members can earn badges. For example, the ‘Jetsetter’ badge can be earned by visiting an airport 5 times, and the ‘Airport’ badge can be earned by visiting 5 different airports. 

Since early August 2010, foursquare users can also check-in at 30,000 feet. Passengers in the U.S who use Gogo’s inflight Internet service can earn a special foursquare ‘Mile High Badge’, once they connect. Gogo is hoping that foursquare users will be tempted to try out its WiFi service if they know that they will receive a special badge for using it, as many foursquare users are avid badge hunters. Read full article »

Delta first airline to sell tickets on Facebook

Delta Air Lines has become the first airline to allow Facebook users in the U.S. to buy flight tickets without having to leave the social network. Dubbed ‘Ticket Window’, users can select different search criteria and then view results from within the application, including route options, aircraft type, times and inclusive prices. Once a fare is selected the user can enter the usual passenger and payment details and the booking is complete. Facebook members can also share their travel plans with friends on the social network. Delta says future releases will contain more social elements, such as coordinating group travel more easily. 

Delta says it plans to expand the Ticket Window functionality to other sites, including online banner ads to allow full booking capabilities within the airline’s advertisements. Says Bob Kupbens, Delta’s vice president eCommerce, “Our customers are spending more time online and are looking for new ways to connect with us. “We’re now bringing Delta to our customers rather than the other way around.”
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Gatwick Airport wants travelers to tweet their feedback while at the airport

London Gatwick Airport is actively encouraging travelers at the airport to post complaints, feedback, and suggestions in 140 characters or less via Twitter. As part of a pilot programme, information screens in the check-in areas display the following message – “Are you on Twitter? Get in touch with us @gatwick_airport and let us know about your experience at Gatwick today”.

With this new initiative Gatwick Airport has basically set up a customer service system that addresses traveler’s needs in real time. Gatwick has been active on Twitter since August 2010, and often responds to comments, but according to the airport, “this now takes it one step further by actually integrating social media into the physical space of the airport”. Twitter replies from staff are currently only offered during office hours, as most other airports and airlines do. The plan however is to extend the Twitter service to run 24 hours a day. Read full article »

Austrian Air tours New York with ‘cafe-to-go’ Twitter truck, serving free coffee

Austrian Airlines is one of the smaller national carriers in Europe, serving just 10 intercontinental destinations from its hub in Vienna. The Lufthansa-owned carrier flies directly to New York and Washington D.C from the Austrian capital. To promote the airline in these two cities, Austrian Air just held a ‘Taste of Europe’ campaign, which highlighted the café and coffee heritage of Vienna. 

From June 1st to June 10th (2010), an Austrian Airlines ‘Café-to-Go’ truck toured the steets of New York City, serving free coffee. Taking a cue from popular food trucks such as Kogi BBQ and Coolhaus in Los Angeles, locations were announced via Twitter. Viennese coffee classics like Wiener Mélange, Einspanner and Kleiner Brauner were prepared in the truck and served to people passing by. Vienna is known for its traditional coffee-houses and Austrian Air also has a ‘Viennese coffee house’ service onboard its flights. Read full article »

British Airways and Air New Zealand latest airlines to launch online business communities

Realizing they are not only in the business of taking passengers from one destination to the other, but that they are rather connecting people, a number of airlines have launched social networks of their own in the past years. Think BA’s Metrotwin, Virgin Atlantic’s vtravelled.com, Air France-KLM’s Bluenity and American Airlines’ BlackAtlas.com. Other airlines, such as KLM (Club China, Club Africa, Flying Blue Golf), and Lufthansa (Miles & More MemberScout) have launched business-oriented social networks for members of their frequent flyer programs.

British Airways has just launched an online ‘Face-to-Face Community’ for small business professionals in the U.S, as part of its ‘Face-to-Face’ campaign. Initiated in July 2009, the airline’s ‘Face-to-Face’ program solicited stories from U.S small and medium companies on how a face-to-face meeting overseas would help them during the recession. The 1,000 winning entries received free travel on three special BA flights from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to London and beyond to make their meetings a reality. BA says the people who went on the first Face-to-Face trips at that time asked how they could stay in touch with each other, hence the online network.
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