Is there any segment of travel that is NOT getting social? I coach, speak, and train travel professionals around the world on the importance of becoming a trusted travel authority. Part of the trusted part in a selling-buying travel relationship is ultimately knowing more than your prospect or client, which means taking the time research, read, review, and understand product knowledge, industry trends, travel topics of interest, and current events. I sincerely believe that such professionalism, personal attention to detail, and a passionate delivery will win over any website, call center or direct supplier.
Well with all the emerging social websites, KLM’s service has successfully started and changed everything… enter “meet and seat” from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines! This breaks new ground into so many realms that it’s hard to envision what our industry, as we know it today, will look like in 3-5 years, if not sooner. I believe this social opportunity serves both the consumer revolution and corporations looking to gain more demographic information from its paying customers to better tailor its services on future transactions. What I really mean is that I think that both the paying customer would like to have some choice as to who they sit next to, as much as KLM wants to know more about us.
“Meet & Seat has been welcomed as a fantastic, innovative new service,” Martijn van der Zee, Air France-KLM’s senior vice president of e-commerce, told Mashable.“People respond with curiosity and enthusiasm and are positive across the board.”
I personally like the idea of choice (without a fee of course), and the ability to play with the feature of social before, during, and maybe after the travel experience. But remember, Facebook is still a closed social network with only 1.5 billion users, meaning not everyone in the world is on Facebook yet, and thus, cannot participate in this social experiment without a username.
The bottom line is that we, as the travel industry, need to become more familiar with travel suppliers experiments with social tools, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and then connecting them to the buying experience. This is just another reason to begin adopting everything social in your business and begin to listen, learn, and follow such innovators like KLM.
Cory is a passionate travel entrepreneur and highly specialized business coach to independent agents, HOST agencies, Travel Associations, respected travel suppliers, and the TRO community. Learn more here.