Transport for London Provides Updates on Social Media for 2012 London Games

Transport for London (TfL), a UK-based government agency that is responsible for the transport system in Greater London, UK, has announced that visitors to London will now be able to access live travel information for the city from social media feeds.

With around 125,000 people currently following the agency’s Twitter feeds for transportation information and advice, it will be updating its feeds regularly at its three Twitter handles, @TfLTrafficNews, @TfLTravelAlerts and @GAOTG.

The social media feeds will be providing the latest information and updates on various transportation and road services affecting around 150,000 travellers that are expected to descend on the city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, commencing later this month.

The agency managing director of marketing and communications, Vernon Everitt, said, ‘London continues its transformation into a massive sporting and cultural venue.

With a million more people here during the Games and a range of different events happening every day, our public transport network and roads will be exceptionally busy.

Our social media tools like Twitter are an increasingly important way of offering people advice and support to help them avoid the travel hotspots.

We’re hoping that the many thousands of people who already follow our service updates on Twitter will make some of our Twitter channels their ‘Follow Friday’ recommendations today and use #GAOTG to join the conversation.’

The agency is offering various tools, including free email alerts to help visitors plan their journeys to the 2012 Games venues; a Temporary Road Changes planning tool for last minute changes; and a Spectator Journey Planner for ticket holders to Games venues.

 

Air Travel Will Not Replace Online Communication, Says Study

Social media may be changing the way people communicate, but it will certainly not replace air travel, a verdict that comes as a relief to Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer.

A survey conducted by the company, for which around 1.75 million respondents were questioned, revealed that in the future people will still be keen to travel by air, and meeting with others physically will not be replaced by online communications.

By 2050, around 63 percent of people worldwide will be flying more than they are doing currently, according to the survey results. While 60 percent of respondents do not think that social media will replace physical meetings between people, around 40 percent of respondents feel that air travel is now becoming quite stressful, and round 96 percent demand sustainable or ‘eco-efficient’ air travel.

Charles Champion, the executive vice president of engineering, at Airbus, said, ‘Aviation is the real World Wide Web. The results of the survey show that there is nothing better than face-to-face contact. The world is woven together by a web of flights that creates ever-expanding social and economic networks: 57 million jobs, 35 per cent of world trade, and USD2.2 trillion in global GDP.

Since we launched the ‘Future by Airbus’, we have engaged with people in 192 countries in a dialogue about the future of air travel. This resulted in our revolutionary Airbus Concept Plane and Cabin, which offer a glimpse into some of the innovations that could meet evolving passenger trends and environmental considerations. It’s clear that people are really excited about the future of sustainable flight and we want them to be part of shaping that future.’

 

Advantage 2012 Conference Highlights Changes in Corporate Travel Policy

Social media may be driving corporate travel product suppliers to change their ways of marketing and connecting with their customers, and companies to control their travel expenses.

At the recent 2012 Advantage Conference that took place in Malta, a senior travel buyer has highlighted that companies’ travel policies are currently undergoing several transformations, and will change even faster in the next two years, influenced by the Internet, mobile applications and other social media.

 

Carel Aucamp, the global sourcing manager for procurement network organisation, Agrega, said, ‘There will be one billion smart phones in use by 2015, and the apps industry will be worth $55 billion by then. Controlling the use of apps by our travellers in 135 countries is impossible. But you still need duty of care.’

Companies’ new travel policies are set to offer incentives to travellers for compliance, by offering discounts, like the insurance industry; as well as by offering loyalty points and a level up, like the airline industry; to nudge them in the right direction. Social media will allow the companies to assess the travel preferences of the employees, and to formulate policies accordingly.

Aucamp said, ‘Awarding travellers points, in competition with each other, for using preferred suppliers and booking within policy, creates a different conversation around the water cooler. You can regularly publish the top 10 travellers, and small rewards – maybe they get five minutes with the CEO. You’re asking travellers to be intelligent, and they’re choosing to take responsibility and do the right thing.’

British Passengers Condemn Sharing Social Media Profiles with Fellow Passengers

British passengers are not in favour of proposals for sharing social media profiles with airlines to decide on favourable fellow passengers for flights.

HolidayExtras.com, a UK-based travel amenities company, found that British travellers are wary of what airlines call ‘social seating’, according to a survey, with 57 percent of the customers polled voting against airlines using social media profiles of passengers for shared information prior to boarding. Customers have cited safety concerns, with 64 percent of women fliers and 51 percent of men raising the issue.

Airlines are currently testing new software that will allow travellers to choose their ideal neighbour, based on their social media profiles. 38 percent of the airlines’ customers branded the new ‘social seating’ software ‘a completely scary idea’, while 19 percent admitted to feeling concerned that the software could be a danger to them.

For around 12 percent of the people polled, social seating would offer them a dream travel scenario, with the potential to fulfil a romantic notion, or to avoid ‘passengers from hell’. Of the people polled, men seemed more taken with the possibility of finding a date among their fellow passengers, than women.

Anthony Clarke Cowell, associate merchandising director at HolidayExtras.com, said, ‘It’s great to see the travel industry using the latest technology and harnessing the power of social media, but judging by these survey results, social seating could be a step too far for British travellers.’

The survey also points out that a small proportion of the customers (13 percent) may opt for social seating, if they have full control over the information shared with their fellow passengers via the airlines.

‘Seatmate’ selection could be available on your next flight

Dutch airline KLM is working on a tool that will give passengers the chance to choose their seatmate by linking travellers Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to their check information.

 

‘Meet and Seat’ will allow travellers checking in to choose their neighbour through online networking sites.

 

This idea allows passengers to pick people with similar interests to sit next to them.

 

Passengers will also be able to use these networking sites to choose their neighbour based on looks and even job description.

 

The matchmaking service, which is currently still in development is set to launch early next year, and further details are being kept under wrap.

 

An opt-out option will be available for passengers who prefer to ignore their neighbour and enjoy entertainment through their headphones; this will mean that they don’t have to share their personal information with others.

 

However for those who do choose to join in, their neighbour may not be what they expected, making their flight a long one. For instance their neighbour may turn out to be less attractive than first thought or they insist on talking business for the entire journey.

 

KLM airlines is not the first to spark controversy and harness social media for its passengers.

 

Malaysian Airlines are planning to release a Facebook service, allowing passengers to see whether any of their friends are booked on the same flight or plan to visit the same destination at the same time.

 

Making headlines in 2006 were AirTroductions, which offered an online dating service for frequent flyers, allowing them the chance to meet other travellers. However the company have since closed down.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh