SimpliFlying featured at 2014 Air Transport IT Summit Highlights
“You need to know what you measure. Only then can you benchmark yourself against other airlines.”
– Shashank Nigam, CEO, SimpliFlying
Age of Connections
“Today’s travelers are empowered and we have to deal with them differently. Social media is no longer an afterthought. It’s integral to the airline business. This is the age of connected and empowered travelers.
“How do you satisfy these customers? As an airline, are you ready to deal with these guys? This is not tomorrow. This is the day before yesterday. And, they are the travelers of today. There are several business functions that social media deeply impacts other than marketing.
“The first is real-time customer service. It’s not 24 hours later. It’s not, “We’ll reply within 14 days.” It’s real-time. And it makes a difference. KLM, one of the best airlines using social media in the world, handles 30,000 passenger queries a week through Twitter and Facebook. Of that, 2,000 are replies to passengers who are either traveling or who have a PNR number. The world’s largest social media staff is with KLM: they have 132 people dedicated to social media, including two full-time staff to focus on passengers on the ground at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or in a plane Facebooking or Tweeting.
“Real-time customer service is key. Airlines are doing it today. Customers’ expectations are being set not by you, but by those airlines that are replying to every single thing within minutes. They’re defining expectations. The merged US Airways and American have 100,000 employees. I bet at least 10% of those have deep knowledge about issues impacting the customer. So when can we have the first airline empowering employees to answer any questions from the customer? In fact, it seems that Finnair is going in this direction. It will be good to see when they go live and what comes out of it.”
“Second thing is be crisis-ready. That’s the one thing you ought to get right. I’ll share a very quick example which was rather famous. Krista is a Google employee who became famous after taking a photo of an aircraft and tweeting it just 28 seconds after the aircraft crashed on landing in San Francisco.
“Within minutes, she was inundated with requests from journalists from all over the world. Trouble is, she got the facts wrong and said the flight was from Taipei. In the next 24 hours, she had 4,450 mainstream media mentions. The airline produced a press release eight hours after the incident, the first update on Twitter or Facebook six and a half hours after the incident.
“But San Francisco Airport was on the ball. They were updating not just passengers, but other airlines and keeping everyone up to date. You’ve got to be like San Francisco. You don’t start digging the well when you’re thirsty; you‘ve got to prepare right now.”
Return on Spend
“Third, know the metrics. What gets measured gets done.
“On the first of April every year, WestJet in Canada have a video that goes crazily viral. Those who watched last year’s video to the end were given a coupon code that led them to the airline’s website to book a ticket. Over the first 24 hours the video resulted in 6,000 flyers and 4,000 bookings.
“Or take KLM again. For every euro they spend on social media, they make 1.2 euro in direct sales and 2.8 euro in indirect sales.
“So you need to think hard about how can you provide real- time customer service and how close you are, because it’s not something that’s appearing out of nowhere. The trends have been set for two years now. Social media goes way beyond marketing: it’s not just an afterthought.”
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