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Is Social Media a No-Fly Zone for American Airlines?

Everyone has his or her travel horror story. It usually starts with a delayed flight, turning into an agonizing wait at the hotel concierge desk and ending with an unexpected experience at xyz city. Well, nowadays, each individual’s nightmare experience while on the road is publicized through social media channels, instantly for the world and other potential customers to see!

Just this weekend Erik Schonfeld, co-editor of TechCrunch, publicly posted his complaints towards American Airlines to his staggering 31,000 followers on Twitter and over 2 million monthly readers on TechCrunch com. As Eric clearly states, he “consider[ed] it a minor miracle that the plane [was] actually in the air.”

“After two cancelled flights on this trip alone, a seat without a cushion, and some trouble counting the number of people on the plane which made us return to the gate a second time after another minor problem, I’ve lost count of how many errors American Airlines has now made in this comedy that is my travels. Oh, and @AmericanAir also managed to prove that it is an utterly toothless marketing arm of American which fails when it comes to providing actual customer service.”

I personally believe social media is a real-time PR tool to enhance a brand’s reputation and engage consumers – whether they are brand evangelists, potential customers or ill-hearted after a recent experience with a company’s product/service. I, like Eric, recently had some poor experiences myself with a boutique hotel in upstate New York – little do they know when you search their name online, my rant pops up first; that cannot be helping their business!

Both large and small businesses need to harness the power of listening, analyzing data and reacting. Virgin America showed a great understanding of utilizing these tools when it tweeted to Eric, in response to his frustration with their competitor, “As always, we look forward to having you onboard!”

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