The World Low Cost Airlines Congress kicked off today at the Sofitel Hotel in London Heathrow’s T5. Following our much-praised performance last year, SimpliFlying was invited for this year’s edition with an amply magnified presence, replete with a conference booth as well!
Given the high volume of Tweets and social media activity from the conference, as well as the important issues under consideration, we’ve created a live-blog to help those at the conference — as well as those interested in aviation — to gain keener insights into the topics being discussed.
Our CEO, Shashank Nigam, and our VP of Airports, David McMullen, are participating in the congress and will be sending us images and updates throughout the event.
Live Twitter feed from #WLCAC
Wednesday, 18th September
Day 3 (see below for day 1 and 2) started early with the first “good morning” tweets appearing as early as 8 am!
— hharteveldt (@hharteveldt) September 18, 2013
An initial Twitter conversation also started developing in anticipation of the opening keynote on the future traveller. Following the trend of the previous two days, the focus quickly shifted to today’s Connected Travellers and how they would be spurring ancillary revenues .
— Shashank Nigam (@simpliflying) September 18, 2013
Later on we saw several of the most innovative low cost carriers presenting on stage and the conversation slowly moved from ancillaries to customer service and the importance of brand and social media. During this time SimpliFlying also held a workshop on the Asiana incident in SFO and how the situation was handled on social media. The news of the day however came a bit later when people in the room realized Ryanair, an airline that had long shunned social media, had finally joined twitter and had done so on the day their CEO was at WLCAC.
Tuesday, 17th September
Day 2 (see below for Day 1) opened with great expectation — after all, Michael O’leary and IAG’s Willie Walsh were to be on stage. The two industry stalwarts didn’t disappoint and the conversation once again turned towards ancillary revenues and unbundling of fares, with interesting arguments from both sides. O’leary, in between his usual colourful comments and jokes, suggested that Ryanair is unlikely to charge for carry-on bags and Mr.Walsh stated that BA is unlikely to ever fully unbundle its fares. However, he also stated that it “will be driven by the customer”.IAG’s and especially British Airways’ consumer focus was further highlighted when Walsh stated that the impact of social media was one of the biggest challenges for airlines. Perhaps he had the recent British Airways Promoted Tweet incident in mind, when a passenger used a promoted tweet to complain about the airline and to get the world’s attention. Given the number of connected travellers in the room, it was not surprising to see how the hotel’s poor Wi-Fi connection quickly became a talking point. But it was rather interesting to see some social media customer service in action when the hotel’s twitter handle replied and informed the attendees that the manager was looking into the issue.
Recognizing the power of influencers — like the ones who were complaining from the WLCAC conference room — is key and airlines should learn from it to avoid incidents like the one suffered by BA and the recent KLM “flight-denied” customer-service disaster. Some interesting discussions later in the day focused on the effectiveness of existing in-flight entertainment— something that many low cost airlines consider an unnecessary frill.
Despite persistent problems with the Wi-Fi at the venue, many users at the conference still managed to keep Tweeting. And when this was not possible, some social-savvy folks such as our connected-CEO Shashank, tweeted the highlights. This quote from Farelogix CEO proved particularly popular and hit home by adding a bit of humour to the debate.
Day 2 ended with a Gala dinner that was promptly tweeted about and shared on a range of social networks. The theme was described by some as “Alice in Wonderland”, and judging from the images, we have to agree it’s a fitting name.
Monday, 16th September
When the event started, we immediately saw a flood of tweets from the room, with most of the conversation focusing on the presentation by Germanwings and Air France’s Hop. There were also frequent hints at the need to reduce airports costs with veiled criticism of the great costs at some newly developed European airports. Someone went even as far as suggesting (only half-jokingly) that airports should share revenue from stores, since without airlines there would be no customers to shop there.
With all this focus on cost reduction, we feel airports and airlines should start looking at ways to drive ancillary revenue from the connected traveler.
The second highlight of the day was the African low cost carrier FastJet that generated an intense social media conversation with its presence at the roundtable and with its innovative branding. The airline stated that communication between consumer and company was key to its strategy.
— Peter Harders (@PeterHarders) September 16, 2013
On the whole, however, for the SimpliFlying team the most exciting moment was this one:
— Shashank Nigam (@simpliflying) September 16, 2013