Whenever one travels by a flight, the primary concern is his/her co-passenger, mainly because one doesn’t have an option to change their seats even if the flight has vacant seats or it doesn’t have frequent stops like other means of transport. This unknown passenger lands up as a point of conversation across chat rooms or as a status on social networking platforms. One could have a hilarious experience or a disastrous one. But going forward, one airline is going to make that a difference –‘Social seating’ it involves choosing your seat based on the individual’s interest, hobbies, profession etc. This service is to be introduced early next year by the Royal Dutch airline which has its services to across 135 countries across the world. This is probably high flying Social CRM in the skies. KLM has been running its airlines close to a century now and is one of the oldest airlines in the world. It tied up with Air-France in 2004 for a strategic partnership but both run as independent airlines.
This seating based on Social network platforms isn’t much of a surprise as Malaysian airways had introduced its seating facility way back in March, wherein it allows users to see where their Facebook friends are sitting on a given flight and even Virgin Atlantic is coming up with some kind of a similar programme. KLM intends to get users (passengers) visibility to a limited section of social networking sites, be it Facebook or LinkedIn. The section that is visible is the hobbies, interests, profession etc. which enables passengers to select their co-passenger.
However, this is optional and not mandatory as most of the business travelers / others may want to get rest during their flight. But what is interesting from Social perspective is the fact that flight journeys are only going to get more socializing. This could lead to a host of networking opportunities and could lead to synergy business deals. The other interesting fact is one can get to actually choose their fellow passenger and know whom they are going to travel with for that particular span of time. From an airline perspective, their in-flight entertainment expenses come down drastically as this is purely a choice that begins with the customer and ends with the customer.
There are some concerns with regards to choosing a passenger based on looks and it could turn out being more like a high flying date and an unpleasant one. But that is definitely up to the passenger as each of them would have to accept if they like to be seated next to the other. It is interesting to see how the airline industry has cashed upon social networking sites and building their CRM using the social media platform.
An important thing to keep in mind is making sure one never fakes up a hobby or interest if there isn’t one, as one could get a co-passenger who would want to be seated next to you. This feature ensures that one is really socially sociable. It however makes travel easier for us as we are in the process of CRM by the nature of work we do, so it really doesn’t matter who the person is or what he does.
– Sai Ratnakar Bezawada
Picture Courtesy : http://openclipart.org/detail/29213/paper-plane-by-ddoo