How London Gatwick Airport Uses Social Media to Stand Out from the Rest

Through this blog, we will take a look at different airline companies and see how they are utilizing social media. What better place to start than by looking at the Airline industry as a whole, and seeing how airports are using social media to reach fliers. With more and more fliers connecting to social media airports as well as airlines need to be connected. Due to an increase of fliers using smart phones and being constantly connected to a wireless network, Airports need to be able to recognize these trends and capitalize on them; however, as David McMullen finds in his “Harness the Power of Social Media article that only 14.8% of airports are committing 100-150 man-hours per month towards social media. The norm is fewer than 50 hours per month.

It appears that unlike airlines, airports are lagging behind in terms of social media usage and effectiveness. The exception being London Gatwick Airport, whose digital communications manager, Mandie Armstrong began to put it into practice. SimpliFlying takes a look at Gatwick Airport and how they are using social media to redefine themselves as a more family focused airport.

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An example of a sign that would be posted near a line in the airport. The user would then scan the QR code with their device to hear the story.

The aim of their reinvention is to be an easier airport to fly in and out of if you have a big family with little children. In order to take stress away from the parents, Gatwick teamed up with SoundCloud, a music and audiobook streaming website, to use stories written by unpublished children’s authors. These stories were then uploaded to SoundCloud and were available for free download while in the airport. The airport went even further to make a channel on SoundCloud dedicated to these books called the Gatwick Fairytales. These downloads took the form of QR codes, that once scanned, they would take the viewer to a recorded story.

These signs were placed in key ‘line spot’ such as baggage check and claim and boarding party waiting rooms. Then they recorded the downloads. 70 authors contributed work and the most popular stories were downloaded more than 200 times. Gatwick didn’t stop there; after this in order to gauge the effectiveness of the project even more they asked for feedback on their official twitter account. They also hosted a FAQ through their twitter account in which followers could ask any question they liked about the airport and the CEO Stewart Wingate would answer. Since the first of three FAQ segments, their official twitter page has 109,000 followers.

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4 comments

  1. I think that it’s great to see airports understanding the needs of big families and adapting to show they care. By creating a sound cloud with these stories on it definitely helps to keep children occupied and in turn gives the family a more peaceful journey, having a traveled around quite a bit myself I know how stressful and tiring it can be so anything that can help like this innovation can be a big help. I think that in the future many airports will try to copy this in order to help out passengers and try gain new customers and sales. Social media is such an amazing tool and I think Gatwick has made a great choice in trying to use it to the best of their ability.

  2. It makes sense for airlines/airports to see their target audience as big families with small children and really gives their brand a humane and respectable reputation. Using SoundCloud as an outlet for free story downloads for children on flight or waiting for a flight is simply brilliant because it is definitely family-oriented and parents don’t have to worry about their children viewing an improper television show or movie. With books it’s classic and safe and that is a good message to give off for airlines, especially.

  3. It has never occurred to me that airports would need to do social media if the airlines located within the establishment were doing the job already. After reading this article there are many advantages of airports getting on the bandwagon. Many choose airports based on proximity to their current location more than what the airport offers the individual during their stay, but to have the opportunity to have proximity as well as quality is even better. Gatwick is smart with its choice in reinventing itself to be a family friendly area. Not only does this entice fliers with families, but all other forms of fliers as well. The London airport was made a good move in choosing to engage their consumers with an official twitter account creating an outlet for feedback and customer service. With open communication that social media has allowed the airport proves that in this digital age, transparency and constant communication are keys for survival.

  4. It is so important for not only airlines, but airports to be a part of social media. Gatwick providing stories and music through sound cloud is a great way to engage the families in the airport. Children might not be used to waiting around during a layover for a flight, and they might start to get antsy. But, having this available helps out parents tremendously, which overall makes for a happy flight and experience. If the kids are happy, the parents are too and this will ultimately cause the fliers to recommend this experience to their other friends who have children.

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