facebelt
963 days ago
 

FaceBelt takes the idea of social seating on flights to mobile

TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Hungary-based FaceBelt, a mobile social network service which allows users to see who will also be travelling on their next flight.

Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?

FaceBelt Hungary – a company started in 2011 to develop a social networking smartphone application for fliers.

It works with any airline in the world, anywhere in the world and allows you to see who you’ll be flying with via Facebook data.

A visual seat map shows you all the other Facebook users who have checked-in and where they are sitting. You can then browse everyone’s profile on the plane if they allow it.

It even allows you to share a taxi or assist in changing seats if vacant seats are available. Now you can finally sit next to the person you want to or even move away from any person. It’s the first smartphone application of its kind.

The company is comprised of two people: John Milton (American investment banker living in Budapest) and Ferenc Galgoczy (a Hungarian who owns Hungary’s most innovative travel agency)

What financial support did you have to launch the business?

We used our own resources.

What problem are you trying to solve?

We are trying to bring airplane passengers together in a social arena by solving the lack of social networking in the sky.
This app will allow fliers to communicate and interact with each other throughout the entire flying process.

Describe the business, core products and services?

FaceBelt is all about social networking. It allows FaceBelt users to:

  • see which other Facebook users are on the flight via an interactive seat map and then proceed to communicate with them
  • change seats if seats are available to sit next to that interesting guy / girl, move away from that loud group of teenagers, or perhaps sit next to the person which has similar interests and preferences as you (age, occupation, etc…)
  • share a taxi with other passengers
  • works with any airline in the world, anywhere in the world
  • the app also respects your privacy so if you do not wish to “check-in” to FaceBelt you can still browse the other passengers on the flight.

Who are your key customers and users at launch?

Mainly targeted to frequent fliers, and smartphone users who are also active Facebook users

Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?

We introduced this to random people along with friends to get their opinion and once we got the consistent positive feedback then we decided to proceed.

What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?

We plan to introduce the product to both the Apple and Android App Stores and then market it to global airline alliances.

Unfortunately at this time we do not yet wish to divulge our biz model and rev strategy

SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

Strengths:

  • Young and dynamic team with enough financial resources to support organic growth; extensive experience in the travel industry

Weaknesses:

  • We are small at the moment and will need to expand considerably to take this to the next level

Opportunities

  • This app has the opportunity to become THE game changer for social networking in the sky. The potential client base is over 100m users!

Threats:

  • Strategy implementation – we have three different strategies we are considering at the moment. And increasing competition as social networking in the sky is becoming a popular segment.

Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?

To be honest, nobody advised us against this

What is your success metric 12 months from now?

A minimum of one million unique downloads!

tlabs logo microscope NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.

 
 
Linda Fox

About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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  4. FaceBelt

    @ Chris Klopper: Hi Chris. We will be integrating LinkedIn into FaceBelt as well.

     
  5. Chris Klopper

    Anyone know please if there is a Facebelt-like app that works with LinkedIn rather than Facebook?

     
  6. Peter

    This sounds just like another app called zamp which I just saw on TV yesterday. They do similar things and have gotten a lot of traction apparently.

     
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  8. Jason Alf

    I like the concept and It looks great! Good luck guys.
    I know of at least one company who’s doing something similar. It’s called SeatID (http://www.seatid.com). They are in stealth mode, so I can’t tell exactly what they’re doing though…

    One question that comes in mind: how do you actually help the passengers to choose their seat? How do you know who seats where, and put it on a seat map? Do you integrate into the GDS? Or does evey passenger has to type in their seat number?

     
    • FaceBelt

      Thanks Jason! We’re pretty excited. We don’t tap into the GDS as that would almost be impossible from a legal point of view. That’s all I can really say at the moment on an open forum ;-)

       
  9. Daniele Beccari

    Giving all the hype around Highlight at SXSW (even reaching those who weren’t there…), I suspect anything that allows more access to information about other people near you and/or a good dose of voyeurism can have adoption.

     
  10. Dan Robles

    Social Flights is a ride sharing system for private airplanes in the US (Jets and turboprops). Could we use this service to help book seats on Jets? Please contact us @socialflights

     
    • FaceBelt

      Hi Dan. Unfortunately we will not be involved with booking tickets.

       
  11. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Facebelt: It sounds wonderful in theory and I look forward to seeing what you have in practice. How practical will it be for travelers to view airline seat maps and social media profiles around the plane on a smartphone?

    While I like the idea of social seating, I find it unbelievable that “nobody advised us against this.” There is an awful lot of backlash against social seating with some people thinking it is “creepy” or stalkerish.

     
    • FaceBelt

      Yeah I’m sure it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t forget that the people who find it “creepy” are obviously the ones who will not use this service which is fine. It’s for people who want to connect and have a more social experience while flying. The great thing about social networking in general is that if you’re not interested at all then you simply don’t “connect”.

       
  12. Gavin

    Is “­Unfor­tu­nate­ly at this time we do not yet wish to divulge our biz model and rev strat­e­gy” code for “we haven’t worked that bit out yet?” ;-)

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      gavin – we did ask for an expansion of that answer, but none was forthcoming. I suspect most startups without a business model (yes, there are many!) would simply point to Facebook as a service that had no idea what it’s business model would eventually be when it launched.

      Some might suggest, however, FaceBelt is no Facebook :)

       
    • FaceBelt

      Actually we just didn’t feel it made sense to expose ourselves to the competition. We have a very comprehensive strategy which includes a 3 tiered revenue model.

       
      • Gavin

        Hi facebelt, Thanks for replying. Off the top of my head I can think of 4 ways to create revenue.

        1) Charge for the app – lite version for free
        2) Affiliate tie ups for in app purchases
        3) Ad revenue
        4) data collection and distribution.

        I’m pretty sure I could come up with a few more if I really gave it some time, so I’m sure your competitors probably have the same idea’s or have you come up with something totally new to gather revenue?
        I’ve popped myself down to be notified when you launch and look forward to trying out the product,

        Kevin – There is definitely no shame in starting up with no revenue model. Sometimes a company starts off as one thing and ends up as another (twitter for example). Actually I just thought of 4 ways to make money from a social app for flights ;-)

         
        • FaceBelt

          Actually you are missing one BIG one ;-)
          Thanks for the input and for signing up for FaceBelt!

           
      • Kevin May

        Kevin May

        @facebelt – who would you say is the competition, then?

         
        • FaceBelt

          the young minds of our global village! There are so many brilliant start-ups lurking around every corner these days… so we gotta keep our guard up.

           
  13. Matthew

    I can’t wait to see this in action. I don’t even begin to understand how you got it to work across airlines. I’m a user of Sonar which is similar for bars and restaurants. Always entertaining.

     
  14. FaceBelt

    @Jeroen Actually FaceBelt was created in July of last year, well before KLM’s product. Their product is quite innovative as well but ours is not restricted to one airline. It works on any airline in the world.

     
  15. GH

    cool that it works on any airline

     
  16. Jeroen

    This sounds exactly like Meet & Seat introduced by the dutch airline KLM in january: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2lWn7oup4

     
    • Passenger01

      FaceBelt have more option and not only for KLM passengers. You can check the flights before buying your ticket. KLM based on pre-booked passengers.

       
 
 

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