Articles taggés avec ‘airfrance

Is a passenger necessarily a traveler?

Lundi 22 décembre 2008

« And now I must fly, Bernard. » (Aldous Huxley, « Brave new world »)

Today I was invited by AirFrance, whose flights I sometimes board, to join a community called Bluenity. On their website they claim to be the ‘the first social network for travelers launched by an airline’. A quick tour of blogs reveals this bold statement not to be exactly true: there is already dopplr, a seemingly successful traveler community (although not limited to an airline) and GenFlyLounge (a true tongue-breaker of a name), a traveler community founded by Lufthansa and targeted specifically at students.

Why would an airline (or, to be more precise, a partnership between AirFrance and KLM airlines) start their own traveler community? And who would be interested in participating in such a community? The advantage of joining, as the website claims, would be ‘discovering other travelers on your trip’ and ‘taking advantage of their travel tips’. I wonder if they ever actually observed people boarding the same plane. Most of them – if not all – just want to get off as soon as possible, us humans being more comfortable on solid ground despite all the technological miracles. Besides, people rarely interact with strangers during the flights, except maybe long hauls, and then mostly if they are stuck next to a talkative neighbor. Most people doze off, others read or listen to the music, yet others work. There is, in my experience, less eye contact than, for example, on a train, and less willingness to converse, due no doubt to the confined space of your own seat. When traveling, people in general just don’t want to be disturbed. Who would actually be checking ahead who of his ‘traveler friends’ will be on same plane? To do what, exactly? And why would I check the travel tips of an unknown AirFrance client rather than consult websites dedicated to my destination? Or should I try to attract my real friends to take the same flights as I do?

We all know that in these times of crisis people cut down on travel. Luring users to your ‘community’ is an safe way to gain knowledge about them and therefore develop a better targeted marketing strategy. Consider, for instance, the feature called ‘Trip attitude’. It is supposed to help you define your profile in the community. In fact it is nothing less than an extensive questionnaire aimed at discovering your consumer habits. Trip Attitude

Besides, you are not allowed to answer just some of the questions – you have to answer each of them to proceed to page 2 of 5 (!). It made me wonder how a question ‘I would rather buy my travel tickets from an agency where I can get advice, than online’ could be interesting for the members of the community viewing my profile to see if I will board the same plane.

The suspicion of having just another marketing questionnaire before me is reinforced by the box ‘User stories’, which both in English and in French display the same user story by someone called David. The story is obviously not written by a user and stresses specifically the feature Trip Attitude described above.
User Story

Would be interesting to see if and how this community takes off. Pun intended.