The travel industry has many opportunities to use social media – from pushing sales to keeping travellers informed about their flights in real time. While some airlines use it as a relationship building platform, other airlines are using it to reward customer loyalty. Increasingly, airlines across the world are using social media, especially Twitter & Facebook, to push sales, bring brand loyalty, make announcement and interact with their customers.
How Airlines can use Social Media to their benefit
Pushing cheap fares
It’s exactly like malls pushing annual clearance sales to get rid of all their stock. Low cost airlines give out great summer and vacation deals just a few hours before departure through micro blogging sites like Twitter. In fact, many airlines across the world have separate Twitter IDs especially to promote last minute deals.
Believe it or not, there are travellers who remain logged in to Twitter, deliberately refraining from buying tickers in advance, only to make the most of the cheapest possible fares.
Real time weather alerts
With so many calamities hitting unexpected corners of the world, last minute flight cancellations, delays, change in timings or cautionary weather alerts become critical. For instance, many international airlines informed millions of boarding passengers about the Icelandic volcanic eruptions of 2010, the Chicago storm or the recent floods that washed New York away through their social media platforms. Real time weather alerts given through social media can also help passengers to plan small things in advance – ‘If it’s going to rain, should I keep my jacket in the hand luggage instead?"
Using honest reviews for judging performance
Airlines have to very careful about what their passengers are posting online. One comment carrying a complaint could ruin their brand image and one tweet from a satisfied customer could give them a positive ripple sales effect in terms of sales. Providing customer service online means that the airline has to improve its standards of service not matter what.
Social media is so transparent that it can immediately expose loopholes in a business. Alternatively, airlines can also use inputs from real time customer feedback to improve their performance and operations.
Going that extra mile
Offering customers the opportunity of doing something different through social media can make a lot of difference for an airline brand. Apart from the oft quoted example of Lufthansa allowing travellers to tweet while they’re flying with their ‘MySkyStatus’ service, there are plenty of other ways though which airlines can generate a good buzz about their brand.
Why not allow travelers to choose the kind of person who they’d like to sit next to in a long flight through social media? Why not reward travellers for positive feedback on Twitter with a few extra flyer points of a special service on board?
Give affiliate travel companies the opportunity to partner up
The more data that airlines are able to mine from customers using social media, the more benefits they are going to able to transfer to affiliate travel companies such as taxi services and hotels. For instance, imagine how much of a win-win situation can be created if airlines give a packaged deal to all families of four travelling to a particular destination. Or if an affiliate beverage company is given the opportunity to serve a complimentary drink to passengers in transit as a part of their promotions? The more these promotions are advertised on social media pages of the airlines, more interactivity will be generated.
How Indian Airlines companies rank on Social Media
Few months back, Simplyfy360, a media agency based out of India released a presentation on how Indian Airliners rank on their Social Media initiatives – Have a look!
Although there are a lot of exciting ways that airlines can use social media, the question of the accessibility for Indian travelers still remain. With the burgeoning usage of smartphones and mobile internet, exciting social media strategies for Indian airlines will surely see the light of the day.