A recent article by PSFK explores the advent of social media and networking options for travelers on planes. The article highlights two in-flight apps, Virgin America’s Here On Biz that allows passengers to network with their LinkedIn contacts while flying, and Gabe Whaley’s in-flight friend-finder app, Wingman.
It was only a matter of time, right?
Long gone are the days of being disconnected from the world during a flight, and it likely won’t be long until cell phones are allowed, too. People want to email, chat, and stay connected in the air, so it only seems natural that social networking expands to flights.
Lots of frequent travelers are business travelers, so it makes sense they might want to use LinkedIn in the air. I can see this being useful after an important meeting, providing a quick and easy way to connect with newly-acquired business contacts. I can see Wingman working especially well for people who aren’t thrilled with their assigned seatmate (IE ‘the snorer’ or ‘questionable-smelling gentleman’) – we’ve all been there. Logistically it sounds a bit complex (I’m thinking a lot of seat-swapping and flight attendant aggravation), but why not let those who want to socialize in-flight find each other, leaving those who don’t to enjoy their flight in peace.
Both apps clearly have merit for avid social networkers, but the reason I’m really onboard (bad pun intended)? These apps could provide great opportunities for advertisers. No longer will ads be confined to the glossy magazine in the seat back pocket – targeted advertisements relevant to the flight experience or destination could be hosted on these social platforms. This would provide an opportunity, for say, the food vending company selling snack packs onboard. The platforms could also offer up ads about the upcoming destination, giving cities and local businesses a place to promote themselves. And what about retailers? They could advertise an emergency tie, useful after spilling en route, or the cute new bathing suit you forgot to pack. Ads could change trip-to-trip or week-to-week, rather than according to the magazine’s printing schedule, making them current and relevant to all flyers.
Whether you personally find these apps useful or not, the opportunities for advertisers seem limitless, reaching well beyond the duration of the flight. And hey, who knows, maybe you’ll even make a new BFF while networking onboard.
Photo from The Sydney Morning Herald