KLM and a few other airlines are beginning to integrate the online social community with the actual flying experience in so many different ways. From a digital marketing perspective it’s nothing short of brilliant however whether the idea actually takes off in reality remains to be seen.
The concept of ’social seating’ was introduced earlier this year by KLM as an extension of their Meet & Seat programme. At check-in you can share your Facebook or LinkedIn profile with other travellers and then request to be seated next to someone of your choice.
The idea is to sit with like-minded passengers who share your interests, sometimes maybe even just sharing the same language. The application shares pieces of information about yourself with others with the same application so you can choose where you’re seated, and make the request of the selected passenger. While you can’t refuse who is seated next to you, you are able to request another seat up to two days ahead.
On the positive side you could make some great friends, expand your business network, and maybe even find the love of your life. www.wemetonaplane.com comes to mind from a romance point of view, where passengers can make posts to those they wish they’d asked a phone number from, stating which flight and seat they sat in, accompanied by quite fascinating stories of how conversations began. These applications could make that issue obsolete.
KLM aren’t the only airline incorporating social media into their marketing programs. Air Asia recently ran a promotion where a Facebook user and 302 of their friends could win an entire flight from Sydney to one of their Asian destinations by downloading an app from their Facebook page and sharing with friends online. Air New Zealand is currently running a campaign in the UK rewarding consumers who share its premium economy Spaceseat product through their social media pages with a £50 cashback where the share results in an actual booking.
Malaysia Airlines last year introduced MHBuddy allowing you to check if any of your Facebook friends are booked on the same flight, but the consensus is that the application will be of most benefit to business travellers, especially those en route to a conference or major business event. And if you’re an entrepreneur bursting with a brilliant idea that needs financial backing, being seated next to an investor on a long haul flight could be most opportune.
You’re able to view KLM’s seating map with other passenger profiles who have signed up for the programme, but if you’re in the mood for an anonymous and quiet flight without conversation, you can choose to hide your profile. But we all know that doesn’t always guarantee a seat buddy that wants to have a chat.
We asked our very well-travelled team here at the Wego Singapore office what their thoughts were about sharing details with potential seating neighbours and the reactions were quite diverse. Some welcomed the idea while others were quite willing to pay for the option of a very quiet and undisturbed flight.
KLM are offering the Meet & Seat programme initially on routes between Amsterdam and Atlanta, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Delhi, Houston, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nairobi, New York, Osaka, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo and Toronto.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about social seating, so click on our Travel Editor’s Desk poll and give us your feedback. We’ll bring you the results soon.