My friend Gerard Vroomen, who lives in Amsterdam and flies KLM frequently, alerts us to KLM Meet and Seat.
Gerard (who tweets at @gerardvroomen and has an excellent blog) is a co-founder of Cervelo, the premier high end racing bike company. He built his company by focusing on a great product for his buyers (including road racers and triathletes) and by building a huge and passionate following through social media. So when Gerard brings something to our attention it is certainly worth checking out.
The KLM Meet and Seat lets those booked on certain KLM long-haul flights find out who else will be on flight too. With Meet & Seat you can view other passengers' Facebook or LinkedIn profile details and see where they'll be sitting – long before the flight leaves the ground.
You might search for people who are going to the same conference as you. Or someone from the same industry.
Opt-In to Meet and Seat
The KLM Meet and Seat service is opt-in. You can still be anonymous if you want. Or you can share your Facebook or LinkedIn profile through the KLM Manage my Booking interface. Once you share yours you can see the profile details of other passengers as well as their seat assignment (you can even try to sit next to someone interesting).
"I think this is a great way to use the capabilities of social networks," Gerard says. "Let's face it, many airline offerings are very similar and the consumer focuses on price a lot, so any time you can get your customer to think about something else, that's a good thing. Of course, KLM has to be careful it doesn't backfire, you can't run before you can crawl. Their website has had problems in times of crisis (Icelandic volcano, snowstorm at Schiphol airport) where online management of bookings wouldn't work, and their call centers would only play a recording telling people to manage their bookings online and then hang up on them. If you offer fancy services but the basics don't work, you'll take a real beating. But presuming they got the basics working now, this is a great addition and it also shows the benefits of being original; people will talk about it simply because you're the first to implement it."
KLM is a social media pioneer. When Foursquare first took off, they created a KLM Surprise program for those who checked into their flight on Foursquare at the airport gate. Sometimes, KLM staff would surprise you with an upgrade or travel bag or some other gift.
Each of these interesting KLM social initiatives are designed to get people to talk about the airline on their social networks. Imagine being seated next to your next customer or business partner (or even your future spouse) as a result of the social matchmaking.
Interesting stuff. Thanks Gerard.