American Airlines is facing up to social networking with a new linkup with Facebook, the social networking platform that has attacted millions of people, most of them young and many of them hip, who put personal postings on the web in the hope of finding friends, influencing people or creating new ‘net groups. The largest US airline, American says its Facebook presence is different, because even though many airlines have a page on Facebook (‘Hi, We’re Air Indiana’), this is first time an airline has a custom-designed application, says American’s Billy Sanez. The American application, Travel Bag, of course has points of entry to American’s own site, aa.com, where the Baggers can reserve flights and other travel packages.
But Travel Bag is not primarily a sales device but a sharing tool that lets people (“users”) share their recent trips, talk about places they’ve been before or read each other’s reviews of restaurants or bars or hotels. Flight Baggers can set up a countdown to a forthcoming trip. This is called ‘Trip-O-Vent,’ which isn’t, as we thought, a way to vent but simply an open planning tool. But Billy says American will be looking for feedback and listening to what customers say.
Although American touts this as a major step forward in social marketing, that area where things like blogs are playing a bigger role, Left Field spoke to some young and hip types and they say that folks of that ilk (the young and the hip) are losing their Facebook fascination. It may have been cool back when Facebook was a sort of an Internet yearbook for the hip at Harvard and other hot places; now everyone (67 million at last count) is on Facebook, they say, and that just can’t be cool.