As one who is always professing the benefits of social media for company/brand X-when done properly of course-it's always refreshing to come across a company that "gets it."
There is no doubt there are plenty that don't get it, however. Chapstick comes to mind as a brand that doesn't get it, as witnessed by their social-media debacle this past December. Read all about it right here.
But as an example of a company/brand that most assuredly "gets it" when it comes to social media, I give you KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines.
Last year they, as told by Aaron Lee, they actually "made history, by being the first airline to reschedule a flight following a request from a user on Twitter as well as entering the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest altitude dance party."
More recently they announced the creation of a program called "Meet & Seat." The program allows passengers to link their social media profiles to their check-in information and choose a seating partner according to their profile.
"Social media in the sky" is how I heard one person describe it.
It's a fascinating concept and one that could lead to similar programs being adopted not just by other airlines but other industries-cruise lines, for example.
Want a stateroom next to someone you have something in common with based on your LinkedIn profile?
How about sports' teams and tickets? Say you want to buy season tickets for a given team. Want to check the social media profiles of those you may be sitting next to or near?
What was the genesis behind the "Meet & Seat" program?
KLM is leading and innovative on social media and is always looking for new innovations. M&S fits to the KLM promise of 'a journey of inspiration.' We hope this can be an extra reason for choosing KLM, when price, schedule, etc. make no difference.
How does "Meet & Seat" work?
Log on to Manage my Booking on KLM.com. Go to the Seating tab and click on Meet & Seat. Enter your booking code and last name to start Meet & Seat.Next, import your Facebook or LinkedIn profile details and select the information you want to share. You can also add a comment on your travel plans.
On the seat map you can now view profile details of other passengers on your flight who joined Meet & Seat. You can contact that person or select a seat next to someone. You will receive an e-mail when a new person joins Meet & Seat on your flight. You can login to see the profile of this person and where he has chosen to sit on board.
Are there plans to incorporate additional social media profiles such as Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest into the program?
We don't have those plans yet. First we want to roll out M&S, actual concept, to the rest of intercontinental flights.
What has been the response from passengers?
The concept is for a large target group. Until now we see on all three-pilot routes a balanced participation of business/leisure, male/female. We started our pilot to North and South America, because they use social media a lot. Especially from the U.S. we get very enthusiastic reactions.
Some have referred to this program as a "matchmaking" tool, but do you also see ways businesses can take advantage of it as well?
Yes, we think the tool can be very interesting for business passengers. It can be helpful or interesting for people who like to talk about business opportunities.
You can contact fellow Meet & Seat passengers before the flight to make travel arrangements like sharing a taxi or to meet for a coffee before the flight. You can also choose to sit together on board. With people who speak the same language, or share special interests.
Any final thoughts/comments you want to share on "Meet & Seat?"
After introducing award-winning webcare (answer within the hour, 24/7 in three languages on Facebook/Twitter) and many successful social mediacampaigns, this is the first social integration into our regular business processes. We believe in a vision where we truly start to integrate social into our core business, which is much more difficult than just webcare or running original campaigns.
Our customers react passionately on these efforts and they encourage us to continue our social activities to make the difference. Thanks to social media, we know almost instantly if our new products are appreciated and in which direction we should improve our tools and services.
Ok, so what do you think of the "Meet & Seat" program?
Would you use this type of program if it were available?
Can you see other industries adopting similar programs?
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email, Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.