Airline Booking goes social, again — Iberia introduces social seating, Qatar allows check-in sharing

Iberia’s social login and seating

The trend of making the booking system less transactional, and more social, continues. Following in the footsteps of KLM (Meet & Seat) and airBaltic (Seatbuddy), Spanish national carrier Iberia has now added social elements to seat selection in their booking process. Powered by Satisfly’s social login feature,  Iberia’s  customers  are  now  able  to  locate  compatible  seat  neighbours  during  online the check-­in process. [push h=”14″]

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 After logging in to the Iberia website, with either Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, the customers can choose from three travel “moods” – Business, Chat or Do not distrub. Then, the system shows them others who have the similar mood selected, and customers can choose to sit next to them after reviewing their profile in a “tool-tip”. Those who are unsure may do it by using the “shop around” button, which recommends a compatible neighbour for them. [push h=”14″]

Iberia Social-seating-tooltip

While right now the service is free, if it grows in popularity, I don’t see why Iberia wouldn’t mind charging for the privilege of sitting next to a “compatible” person in-flight. That might be a source of ancillary revenues for the airline. Till then, it enhances the experience. [push h=”14″]

What will be interesting to observe, other than the take-up, is the profile of passengers choosing to share their profiles and use the system. In KLM’s case, the airline was suprised by the strong up-take among business travellers. If it’s the same for Iberia, there might very well be some interesting targeting opportunities here for the airline, as the booking process becomes more social. [push h=”14″]

Qatar Airways check-in sharing

Over in the Middle East, Qatar Airways has recently introduced a feature on their website that allows social sharing of flight status, after online check-in is completed for a flight. This feature allows the passenger to share the fact that he or she has checked-in for a Qatar Airways flight, on popular networks like Facebook and Twitter. While interesting, it will be nice to see what the adoption rate for the feature is, and what type of passengers use it. [push h=”14″]

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What’s in it for me?

Firstly, it’s an achievement for both Iberia and Qatar Airways to introduce social features in their booking engines. Even more so because the social team would have had to work with the IT department, to make these a reality, and that isn’t always the best of experiences in an airline. [push h=”14″]

While introducing social features in the booking engines does make them less transactional, airline managers really need to think like the customer. For example, does the feature add a new step in the booking process, and make it more cumbersome? They should be asking “What’s in it for me?” because that’s how the customer thinks. [push h=”14″]

In Iberia’s case, there’s the opportunity to meet a potential business partner, or to just have a good rest, based on the mood chosen. But in Qatar Airways’ case, I don’t see why I would be inclined to share the fact that I’ve checked-in for my flight, with anyone other than the driver picking me up! Unless, of course, there’s a clear incentive for me, such as getting 500 miles for sharing the status. Which isn’t there yet. [push h=”14″]

While social media is easy to implement, airlines need to really think about how they are adding value to the passenger experience. If it doesn’t enhance the experience in a clear manner, why do it? [push h=”14″]

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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  • […] Airline Booking – social seating […]

  • […] . Aber es werden immer mehr Airlines, wie z.B. Finnair, Air Baltic und seit neuestem auch Iberia (Airline Booking goes social, again — Iberia introduces social seating, Qatar allows check-in sharin…). Was haltet Ihr von der Idee? Beste Grüße, […]

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