We have all wondered “Who is that sitting over there” when we are on flights. Well, it has just been reported by David Meerman Scott in his blog Web Ink Now that KLM will bring a special use of social media to some of its long-haul flights. The idea is that passengers will be able to op-in and register their social media details. After doing so, they will be able to look at the Facebook and Linked In profiles of others who have also opted in.
Who knows where this will go, but maybe passengers will start to gravitate toward those with similar profiles (e.g., people headed to the same conference or working in the same industry). While it may happen just like that, I was thinking that KLM could add a Facebook Meet & Seat app that also lets you specify if you are a talker, sleeper or movie watcher. This could allow talkers to find their kindred spirits. Of course, it will probably turn out that the most popular use is avoiding people you definitely would rather not sit next to.
From a customer experience point of view, this is use of social media is interesting in that it is akin to crowd sourcing seating arrangements. It signals something else as well, the beginning of an in flight experience determined by passengers. That is potentially profound as what we currently get in flight is determined by the airlines and the health and safety regulators. Depending on the permissions passengers agree to when they opt-in, Meet and Seat could offer a wealth of lifestyle data on customers. KLM would need to tread lightly here but the potential for better understanding its customers’ lifestyles as directly told by customers is potentially huge.If KLM could translate this into a more personalised experience regarding preferences on a particular flight then all the better. It could certainly drive some customer loyalty if sleepers could reasonably expect to be seated next to sleepers and talkers next to talkers.
Unfortunately, as Scott points out in his blog, KLM does not have the best track record when it comes to getting some of the basics right with technology even though it has been a first adopter in some instances (e.g., Foursquare via KLMSurprise). Well, we will all know the success of KLM in short order as people begin to opt-in and comment on what the experience was in social media. KLM would do well to keep the Walkie-Talkie model of customer feedback in mind. Nevertheless, kudos to KLM for being a pioneer.