Bernard Lavelle, sales director at London City Airport and a frequent Twitter user, talks to Routes News about the airport’s social media strategy.
How does does London City utilise social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook and YouTube?
London City is an active user of a number of forms of social media, with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube the main channels. Our philosophy remains the same as it has always been, which is to have 1-2-1 dialogue with passengers and to make it as immediate as possible. We believe we are a leader in the world in Twitter but Facebook and YouTube allow us a deeper and a greater variety of ways to engage with existing and potential users of London City. Twitter allows that immediate but limited response whereas Facebook and YouTube allow for a different level of engagement with the opportunity to offer a richer experience with both text and videos. We are only touching the surface of what can be achieved but we learn a little more each day.
When did London City begin to use social media and what were the initial objectives?
Social media has come a long way over the last few years but in many ways London City has been leading the field. We launched the first ever airport website in the UK in 1996 and with that came the forerunner of today’s social media – email. We aimed to respond to emails within five minutes, which allowed us to actively engage with customers. In terms of Twitter and Facebook, we started using these in 2009. So not the first but we believe we are leading others, especially on Twitter.
Do you use Twitter to keep passengers up to date on the latest flight timetables, schedule changes, etc?
Yes we do, but Twitter is much more than this. Let me give you an example, we had a regular passenger tweeting to us a few weeks back.
Their flight was delayed and their iPhone was running low on power but they had forgotten their charger. This came out in conversation, so one of our team (and this is dedication) went into the terminal with his own charger, found the passenger, bought her coffee and had a chat with them whilst they charged their phone. Now tell me, where else is that likely to happen?
Have you ever used social media to help in your route development negotiations with airlines?
Yes we have. We have used both Facebook and Twitter to promote our online route questionnaires. As part of the research we undertake into new route opportunities, we have one-minute questionnaires on our website. These ask a series of questions about a particular route opportunity. To help promote these, we regularly use Facebook and Twitter to promote the URL but also to engage users in a conversation about why they want a particular route.
This article features in Routes News 2012 Issue 1