By Alyse O'Shea
A consumer’s decision in their choice of airport is based, like many other services, on the convenience of the location, the airlines that operate there, the destinations available, but also on the level of awareness and reputation of the airports brand.
Airports are wondering right now how they may become more attractive to counter attack the other domestic and international offensive, therefore as eligible as any other brand to use social media to:
• Improve customer services
• Handle crisis
• Build relationships
• increase commercial activity
• Create an enjoyable experience for customers
So how do we know this will work?
There’s no question that Virgin America has embraced technology and social media and according to Abby Lundardini, Virgin America’s director of communication, is willing to take risks in social media.
Last August, Virgin ventured into geolocation for the first time and partnered with Loopt to offer a “2-for-1 Tacos and Tickets” promotion, which coincided with the addition of two new destinations in Mexico. Once fans checked in via Loopt at either of two branded taco trucks – in San Francisco and Los Angeles – they received a digital promotional code which delivered 2-for-1 flight tickets and 2-for-$1 tacos.
In April, the airline started offering points that were redeemable for prizes to customers who checked in to Terminal 2 in the San Francisco Airport on Facebook Places or Foursquare.
Daily deals came next, with Virgin stepping up to become the first airline to use Groupon last February. The promotion was meant to celebrate Virgin’s new service to Chicago, and offered $77 worth of airfare for $7.
The brand is seeing impressive growth and engagement. “We’ve grown tremendously in not only the revenue which we bring in, but also the number of fans,” Fletcher told Mashable. “We have one of the highest growth rates on Twitter and Facebook out of any domestic airline.”
How can this have a positive impact for the airport?
Improve Customer Service: This promotion gets the consumers involved by providing a short-term services that has not been provided before.
Build Relationships: This promotions allowed for consumers to get more involved in the airport, both physically and virtually. They were able to follow the airline on social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, in order to have a better experience when visiting the airports.
Improve Commerical Activity: By encouraging people to come into the airports, in turn creates more chances to buy products or use the services provided, which in turn promotes the airport.
Enjoyable Experience: This promotion was a fun way to reach out and create buzz on social media in a way that hasn’t been done before, so they get high marks for out of the box thinking.
Handle Crisis: I like that the Virgin folks knew that offering cheap plane tickets, especially to now destination, is really a clever way to not only promote the airline and airport services, but also to inform the consumers of the new destinations offered.
How can we turn this into innovation?
Let’s use the Brisbane Airport, as a familiar example for now. With the use of Twitter, customers and retailers can use #bneairport to interact and engage with customers by promoting:
• Shop offers and sales
• Airline offers and sales
• New launches
• New shop openings
• Meal deals
Using Twitter as customer support might be seen as common but the real innovation with Brisbane Airport is that they display their Tweet feeds on big screens throughout the airport. This can be a huge opportunity to create a huge customer support and to provide something different to other airports. I think Brisbane Airport could even go further and build stronger relationship with its customers on Twitter by providing customers QnA opportunity, which can allow for enquires or feedback to be responded to.
Any other ideas?