It looks as if the marriage between Social Media and business class travel is about to get even stronger, with social media determining who you sit next to on your next flight. Jenny Southan’s article in Business Traveller magazine UK, Fancy Meeting You Here explores how pilgrims of a different kind will be able to use social networking sites like Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter to choose who they spend time with on those long transatlantic voyages. Is this a good thing for travellers or not?
Early adopters of the trend include Malaysian Airlines, KLM and Air Baltic. It remains to be seen if it will catch on. Business Traveller’s poll showed that about a quarter of those asked would use a social media site to meet other travellers and three-quarters would not.
My observations from working in business class are that business class passengers keep to themselves unless they are travelling in groups, if not, they are busy reviewing the business they are going to do or catching up on sleep. Interaction beyond simple acknowledgement is more likely in steerage. I have even seen first class passengers sneak into other classes of travel to escape the austere formality of first class. I guess they got the memo that business really is going social!
Whether we like it or not it seems technology in one of its guise’s as social media is ingratiating itself more and more into business travel. There is a lot of good about it, there is some bad and there is the ugly.
The good includes price transparency due to online booking tools and the like. Online Check-in and boarding pass issue. Flight status apps for when you’re delayed, and always being in touch with the office (a blessing and a curse). The bad is technology as an alienating force (together but alone) present but not being present. The ugly is the rush to overwhelm ourselves with technology* at the expense of our health especially amongst the business frequent flying community.
The dangers of these scenarios are that the bad and the ugly are costing global business dear. It is especially so when the concept of healthy business travel and healthy fliers are rarely taken seriously in the cut and thrust of global business travel. Yet it is documented that businesses bottom lines suffer when its people are operating at less than optimal.
How soon will we clamour for quiet zones* in the air free of gadgets beaming Wi-Fi signals at 35,000 feet, or the din of conversation from a couple of people who met on Facebook and are now enthusiastically sharing like histories (pun intended).
*EuroStar trains to introduce quiet zones on trains at the request of customers- Business Traveller magazine UK 08/06/2012.
*PC Housing – Mobile Dependence, A Growing Trend In Business Travel.