Tag Archives: social network

Social media diary 07/11/2008 – Air France-KLM

Air France-KLM launch Bluenity, the ‘first’ social network for the airline industry

Today Air France-KLM launch what they claim is the ‘first’ social network for the airline industry: Buenity. Once signed-up, members will be able to share tips on hotels, restaurants and shopping at destinations across the globe. But the real USP of the site is that is allows members to make their travel plans public – showing their flight bookings made through KLM or Air France. They can then find other members on the same flight or in the same locations when they are.
There are some obvious benefits to this – people to meet in the lounge and to travel, people to share taxis with, people to meet for dinner or business or just a way for people to share ideas with others who are similar to them. As Patrick Roux, Senior Vice President Marketing at Air France-KLM, says:

This is a response to those customers who would like to be proactive on their trip, whether they are travelling for professional or leisure purposes. From 7 November onwards, travellers and especially the 75 million customers who choose our two airlines every year, will be able, by using Bluenity, to meet before, during and after their flight

So what can we learn from this?

Whilst I’m not sure that this is the ‘first’ airline social network (see the launch of BA’s MetroTwin), but the proposition certainly is an interesting one. When we are working with clients at FreshNetworks, building online communities for them, we spend quite some time identifying why an online community could work in this situation and what the connection between and motivation of members would be. In this case it is clear that the commonality between members is first that they are both customers (maybe regular travellers on) Air France and/or KLM, and second that they might both share a closer experience – the same destination or flight.
I would expect the team who built this site to have looked into this shared experience in quite some detail. Do people who fly want to interact in this way? How do they currently meet people and spend their time in the lounge and on the place? How much do they actually want to engage and how much of this do they want to do online.
With the launch last week of LinkedIn Applications it is now possible for your TripIt travel plans to be visible there so that people can see where you are going and so that you can find others going to the same place. It will be interesting to see if users are more likely to use this kind of service than they are to use a site like Bluenity. Airfrance-KLM do have the significant benefit of a direct link to their reservations engine which makes the whole process much simpler, but I expect this will be a good case study of whether people prefer a separate social network or a widget to help them in this goal.
Of course, at FreshNetworks we know that travel is a vibrant market for online communities and social networks. It’s a sector that a lot of our clients come from and a sector where engagement with your customers and guests is critical. It should be no surprise that Air France-KLM have entered the fray. I’d expect most of the big players in this sector to be doing the same in 2009.
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Social media diary 31/10/2008 – Amex

Amex to launch online community for travel managers

One of the best examples I know of a brand using information they have to add a social layer to their site is the Members Know site from American Express. On this site Amex use the data from spending using their cards to highlight restaurants and hotels in certain cities that are popular with their members. Once you’ve signed up you can share your thoughts on these establishments and exchange travel tips with other business traveller. Today, they are launching a new online community, and this time it isn’t aimed at the business travellers, but at the people who organise their travel for them.

Business Travel Connexion is aimed at corporate travel managers and will combine editorial from Amex and other suppliers with user-generated content. Amex hope to create a real-time resource for the members and also build a fairly homogeneous community of a group of people who would valuable to marketers. They will be able to share information and ideas with each other and also with Amex and other suppliers. The site includes a “Product Lab” area for feedback and co-creation.

So what can we learn from this?

Amex are a great example of how brands are adding social layers to their existing sites and products, delivering real value to people and making the most of the product and information they already have. With Members Know they took data that previously wasn’t used externally (data on spending in hotels and restaurants) and repackaged this in a way that was both useful for members and encouraged them to interact and upload their own content. In the same way, Business Travel Connection, links a set of individual customers who are isolated (often working with no peers in their organisation) but who share a strong common bond (they all deal with the same problems). That they can be linked through the Amex brand is even more powerful.

When thinking about ‘going social’ – building online communities or using social media – too many firms build approaches that don’t always address their unique position in the market or capitalise upon what they may have to offer. Amex have done things the right way. They’ve thought about their strategy and about why people would engage in an online community that they manage; and about what they have to offer that’s different. These are important stages and ones that we at FreshNetworks spend a lot of time on with clients. Working out why people will engage and why they will engage on your site is a critical first step to any online community

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