BA and Air France launch Social Media sites…

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Air France Bluenity Social Media SiteThe battle of the travel space has moved to the social media space, at least in Europe. In November 2008, Air France/KLM launched its Bluenity social media site, joining the Thalyseo site for train travellers on continental Europe (between Marseille and Amsterdam).  Travellers on Air France/KLM can find out good addresses for their destination, connect with other flyers in their network, share cabs…  Its tagline is: Same place, same time.

In the same basic timeframe as Air France, British Airways beta launched  (Oct 2008) its Metrotwin site, Two Cities, One Place, an online community for people who fly BA’s most popular route between New York and London.  Whereas Bluenity is global in scope, Metrotwin is focused merely on London and New York.  It features recommendations of the best places to go in both cities; users can suggest a twin of each restaurant, attraction or neighbourhood in the other city.  The site also features the Metrotwin blog with a line-up of ten bloggers.

Britsh Airways Metrotwin Social Media Site

In a follow on act, BA launched another social site last month (February 17th) to promote the BA Great Britons programme, which offers 180 free flights each year to any person who wants to fly somewhere to develop their passion or talent. The public has the final say with an online vote.  The log-in authorisation to the site is through Facebook Connect in order to make registration easy.  If you want to apply, however, you had better hurry up as the application deadline ends in 6 days.

In any event, the Bluenity and Metrotwins sites have merits in their easy look & feel, but Metrotwin, with its design and home page, is substantially more inviting.  Unfortunately, with the cutbacks in travel, I don’t know just how successful these sites will be.  In any event, it is coincidental to see BA and AF launch their social media platforms: same idea, same time.  What do you think of these initiatives?  Quid the American airline companies?

7 Comments, RSS

  1. puglet

    Good initiatives, which will be stranded, as this is not the core business for these companies. They may have some following by the ER departments, but unless a revolution occurs there, it won’t be managed to succeed.
    Prediction: both activities will be sold off to mainstream media / social networking sites that will know how to integrate them into core businesses in about 3 years time.
    Some of the services proposed are not really social networking…they are services that modern travellers may find useful

  2. Colin

    I think this is a truly progressive approach to expanding and potentially redefining the value and service an airline provides to their customers. While I agree that these programs are all too often launched by corporations without adequate infrastructure and resources to make them a long term success, there is no clear indication that occurred here. Putting that aside I think this has the potential to be a very powerful asset in building customer loyalty in a industry that has relied solely on point programs for so long that it has not allowed for real differentiation for many years.
    Kudos to both companies for taking a fresh approach to an old problem and making use of social networking in a innovative and practical way, particularly in a difficult industry and slowing global economy.

  3. Minter

    Thanks Puglet and Colin: two opposing points of view! The timing of the launch is quite interesting to see (1) if the economic crisis will have the better of the sites and their parents and (2) if the need for connecting with your clients can happen appropriately between a large “bureaucratic” company and its passengers.

  4. Tim Malbon

    Wow. Fess up – I’m one of the team the designed Metrotwin so thanks for the kind words and the debate. I have to say – not that it matters *that* much – but we launched in September following a private beta launch in June, and Bluenity I think launched in November 🙂

    I think both these services are interesting in trying to *earn* the attention of audiences instead of *only* advertising at them. Significant that both are connecting people. Bluenity seems more like a social networking site, whereas Metrotwin is a bit more of a social utility.

    I wonder what the world will look like coming out of this recession. It feels like the recession might accelerate the flattening effect of ubiquitous social computing. The way brands and people relate to each other may change much quicker than we all thought it would. Not a gentle trend but a sharp break. A shattering.

    To Puglet’s point – I think a revolution is occurring.

    It will be interesting to see how these two sites develop – in fact, we’re working on that for Metrotwin now so if you have any thoughts at all on the matter please drop me a line.



  5. Minter

    Thanks Tim for coming by. I wish I had a magical additional thought for your next steps, but the only thought that comes to mind is that it should have been British Airways’ marketing team that reached out to me rather than the creative team (you!).

    That said, why can I only invite five friends to metrotwin… Also, the facebook entry is a little awkward (the username won’t do).

    Good luck with the project in any event.

  6. Anonymous

    Does Anyone know if bluenity is offered for flights leaving from Rio to Europe. Will I be able to use AF bluenity/OnAir at the Rio Airport and will I be able to use email, text messaging on my flights to Europe.

  7. Minter

    @anon. What timing given the Rio-Paris tragedy on the 2nd June. I don't have an answer for you. Maybe someone else will.

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