Some fall-out from this week’s disruption to flights in Northern Europe has shed light once again on how companies should use Twitter.
For example, high profile travel blogger Darren Cronian of Travel Rants found himself stranded in Holland, unable to return to Leeds-Bradford Airport as airspace was partially closed in the UK and various pockets of continental Europe.
Cronian can be forgiven for his frustration as his Jet2 flight was cancelled and he joined hundreds of other passengers frantically looking for other ways to get to their destination (he eventually took a ferry across the North Sea to Kingston-upon-Hull and arrived in Leeds around 24 hours after the drama first started).
Using Twitter (after getting nowhere on the airline’s customer service line) to get information, Cronian took the advice from the Jet2 Twitter profile to explore his options:
“Follow us for Jet2.com offers, travel news and new route info. Have a question? Just ask & we'll try to help!”
Hours passed and countless@repliesmentioning Jet2 were thrown onto Twitter by Cronian – but there was no response, inevitably causing a huge amount of frustration.
If Jet2 did not offer to assist passengers via Twitter then the airline might be forgiven for simply ignoring people like Cronian.
But in the so-called spirit of social media the airline is at least promising to do one thing (offer some level of customer service), but appears to falling short.
Forgetting individual cases (something social media does reveal every time is a wonderful timeline of such issues), such events illustrate how vastly different travel companies view their involvement in something like Twitter.
- Promotion and information sharing – as it appears in this case.
- Full interaction with followers.
- Hybrid of the two when events require it.
There is nothing to say that any of these approaches are correct. But one thing that social media does so well is lay a company or individual open to criticism if they fail to adhere to a mission statement or promise of service level or product.
In other words: practice what you preach.
Many travel companies have learned the hard way in a relatively short space of time that ignoring the noise in social media can cause difficulties.
It is now widely accepted that despite the profile and the anger which actor-director Kevin Smith aimed in the direction of Southwest airlines earlier this year, officials handled the furore reasonably well.
This is arguably in stark contrast to how Eurostar dealt with the huge levels of anger across the internet in December 2009 when a number of its trains failed during bad weather.
NB: In the interests of balance, we also sent a question to Jet2 via Twitter about this article.