5 years ago

Social media in travel isn’t slowing down – it is evolving, with Twitter more than a social network

NB: This is a guest article by Mike Benjamin, CEO of flight information company FlightView.

When you take the social out of Twitter, what do you get? A stripped down content management system.

And, let’s remember, it’s a pretty simple one at that – just think, virtually zero training or expertise and anyone can master the platform.

Traditionally, for airports and airlines it’s been a channel for customer service, engagement, and brand presence – but that role is shifting as they realize that social media doesn’t always have to be social. It can also be a useful platform for improving operational efficiencies.

When Dane County Airport in Milwaukee launched a mobile website last year, the channel was an instant hit with passengers. It’s not surprising – 2012 smartphone sales paint a clear picture that mobile is the future.

And Gartner predicts continued popularity with 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets being bought in 2013.

One of mobile’s greatest strengths is instant access and communication – any time, anywhere. And why is that so critical in today’s travel market?

Because we’ve entered the age of the next-generation traveler who’s always connected. He expects information at all times, and at the tips of his fingers – both before and during his travels.

Airports are experiencing first-hand that satisfying the connected traveler goes beyond providing routine information. It’s also about ensuring that crucial information is delivered at the same high speed as the planes arriving and departing from Dane’s gates every day.

But there’s a major problem here for some airports: Many don’t have the tools or resources to communicate information at the speed demanded by today’s travelers.

For a solution, Dane County looked to Twitter – although not for its social power – but rather, its core capability – quick and easy distribution of information.

How it works

With one tweet the airport can disseminate information to all mobile website users.

Of course, airports using Twitter to communicate with customers is nothing new. But at the rate that tweets are sent and consumed each day, key announcements and critical information tweeted by an airport is unlikely to stay at the top of users’ feeds for very long.

The reality is that most travelers may never see that important tweet.

The new system integrates a separate tweet stream on the top of Dane County’s mobile website, displaying only the most recent message on any page the user visits.

This new capability keeps Dane County’s travelers informed of route changes, service disruptions, closed access roads or parking lots, and weather advisories.

And in an industry that experiences so many sudden disruptions – operating at a speed any slower than real-time damages customer perception.

For small and mid-sized airports like Dane County, leveraging a mobile-alert Twitter system to communicate urgent travel information is an easier and more affordable option than using a complex content management system.

Instead of having to submit a request to the web team, which may then have to submit the request to development, the airport communications team can instantly give customers the information they need.

NB: This is a guest article by Mike Benjamin, CEO of flight information company FlightView.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries.



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  1. Mike Benjamin

    Thanks everyone – Based on the comments, there are a couple distinctions I should make:

    The mobile website integration does display the most recent tweet – but only from the airport’s announcement feed (which just contains critical updates). This announcement feed is a completely separate Twitter feed from the airport’s normal Twitter feed (which can contain non-critical information).

    Also – the system allows airports to make quick changes to their mobile website, which is not a capability that most small airports have in-house.

  2. conor

    So simple its brillian!

  3. julien

    I failed to see the difference with a RSS feed on the airport page/app. Did i miss something?

  4. Jim

    Wow, the integration of the most recent tweet on a mobile website is hailed as innovation? There have been standard widgets from Twitter to that for years.

    The most recent tweet isn’t always the most important tweet. Seems like a simple interface to display the latest important travel information would have been an easier solution. Or if you want to use Twitter, use a hashtag to be able to promote critical info that should be displayed on the mobile site.

  5. Greg

    Very simple, but very innovative. Seems like all airports should do this.


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