SOURCE: Cheapflights.co.uk

Cheapflights.co.uk

March 07, 2011 09:43 ET

Airlines and Social Media: 5 Winning Trends

Cheapflights.co.uk Highlights Some of Travel's Top Tweeting Trends and Social Media Opportunities

LONDON--(Marketwire - March 7, 2011) - In celebration of Twitter's 5th birthday on 21st March, the UK's leading website for flight price comparison identifies the best marketing opportunities in social media by looking attop airlines and their best uses of it.

"Social media provides a direct and open line of communication from the airline straight to the customer. Not only does it offer a platform for troubleshooting and immediate updates, it also gives consumers a voice, and airlines the ability to connect with them on a personal level, anywhere at any time," says Nadine Hallak, Travel Expert for Cheapflights.co.uk.

With people tweeting and updating their Facebook status as often as every 20 seconds, particularly in times of crisis, the future of social media is looking bright. As such, airlines should seek out these top five opportunities as a means of maximising their customer relations.

Customer Loyalty
Recognising the need for active participation within social media, airlines like Virgin Atlantic have built a strong community presence by launching official Twitter and Facebook pages.

"We believe these channels add value to our customer service. Social media gives our passengers a way to tell us what we are doing well and where we could improve, all in real time. This gives us an opportunity to help out whenever we can and answer a question or resolve a small issue before it becomes a larger complaint or results in a dissatisfied customer," says Kyle Thorne, Social Relations Manager for Virgin.

Deal Tracking
The social media benefits to consumers when it comes to saving money are massive. Following airlines on Twitter or liking them on Facebook can often mean being the first to see and access the best deals, maximising on rewards programs, and enjoying special offers limited to social media.

Germanwings integrated Facebook and Twitter into its direct marketing mix in 2009, enabling its followers to receive real-time news about it as well as current deals. "Our highlight is our 'Lucky Tuesday' offer where everyone who answers a question on Twitter has the opportunity to win popular flight vouchers or model airplanes. It also gives us a chance to answer relevant questions from customers and of course, we appreciate any positive feedback and suggestions," says Thomas Labonde, Head of Marketing for Germanwings.

Planning, Sharing & Connectivity
Social media channels not only provide a space for airlines to connect with their customers, but also for customers to connect with each other.

"We engage our customers through our social media channels by providing them with ideas and making them aware of special offers. Our passengers also want to share experiences and get travel advice from others in their networks -- that's nothing new, but we try to facilitate that information exchange so our passengers inspire on another to travel," adds Thorne from Virgin.

Crisis Communications
The last year's weather disruptions and ash clouds really put airlines to the test when it came to troubleshooting and the use of social media allowed them to 'come to the rescue' in providing consumers with instant updates literally as they were happening. Most recently, when December's snow storms left thousands of planes grounded, airlines turned to Twitter to communicate with their passengers, ensuring they never felt stranded or abandoned by the airline.

In-Flight Communications & Entertainment
Airlines have started helping passengers stay connected with each other through the use of social media even while in the air. Falling in the category of 'entreplanement', airlines such as Delta, US Airways, Virgin America, and United Airlines are welcoming free access to Facebook on-board through in-flight Wi-Fi.

Malaysia Airways' MHBuddy system not only lets passengers check-in and print out boarding passes, it also gives them the ability to see if other Facebook friends are on the same flight. They can then message flight plans to those friends and change seats so they can sit together, all using MHBuddy.

To learn more about Twitter and travel, visit http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/travel-tips/twitter-for-travel/

For details of these and other airlines, visit http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/airlines/

To search and compare flight prices, visit www.cheapflights.co.uk

About Cheapflights Media

Cheapflights Media is an international media network providing users with different ways to find low cost travel. Since 1996, Cheapflights Media has been helping consumers research, compare and save on domestic and international travel. Our flagship brand, Cheapflights, is one of the largest flight deals publishers, delivering over 4 million deals daily. With brand-name deals on airline tickets from more than 300 partners and 600 airlines and a team of travel experts hand picking the best offerings, Cheapflights offers visitors a mix of deals they can't find anywhere else. zugu, the newest brand in the Cheapflights Media portfolio, is a powerful and simple travel search engine that makes it easy to compare and select the lowest available fares online. By organizing flight options by date, airline and time, zugu helps consumers find the best fares based on their travel terms. There are currently Cheapflights-branded sites for the U.K., U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia & New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. zugu is available in the U.K., U.S. and Germany. For more information, visit www.cheapflights.co.uk

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