Make new friends at 20,000 feet

You never have to be lonely on a plane again. At least, not if you are flying on Dutch carrier KLM. The company has launched a new service called “Meet and Seat” – a program that allows passengers to upload information from their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to help choose a seatmate to while away time on a long trans-Atlantic flight. One can select a potential seatmate based on similar preferences and interests. Using virtual profiles to build real-life connections gives airlines a chance to better meet individual needs, and drive up passenger satisfaction.

The concept is that of building a walled social network based on existing frequent flier memberships. This adds to the airlines already large base of information about its customers. It now learns about your habits, home life, attitudes and more – all of which the airline can use to enhance and personalize services. The programs are being embraced by airlines and by independent companies such as Planely (a Danish start-up) and Satisfly (based in Hong Kong).

But what if you don’t like your seatmate? You can’t really “reject” a possible seatmate, but you can move to another seat as long as two days prior to a flight. Not everyone wants to participate; many people use flying time to sit quietly, read, or sleep. Social seating is more likely to appeal to business travelers or those looking for companions. It works by sharing selected information from one’s social profile. The passenger is then presented with a seat map showing others who have also shared profile information. Passengers then reserve the seat next to someone who seems interesting, and that person will receive a message with your profile details.

After all, if you like who you are seated next to, you are more likely to enjoy the flying time, all the while meeting new people.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Have students view the KLM video about the new service: http://youtu.be/eL2lWn7oup4
  2. View KLM’s Web site, and section about Meet and Greet. http://www.klm.com/travel/us_en/prepare_for_travel/on_board/Your_seat_on_board/meet_and_seat.htm
  3. What are advantages of the idea? Disadvantages?
  4. What other companies might use an application such as this?
  5. Review similar products:
    1. http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/in/en/book-and-plan/mhbuddy.html
    2. http://www.planely.com/
    3. http://www.satisfly.com/
    4. What are target markets for these services?
    5. Build a promotional plan for these services.

 

Source:  New York Times, 2/23/12 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/business/global/selecting-a-seatmate-to-make-skies-friendlier.html

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