Mark Nothaft 2015-09-01 02:08:01
A new breed of business networking applications takes flight. The adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” rings only half-true to savvy business travelers. Business relationships are still built the old-fashioned way, but many are employing technology to improve success, using even time spent in transit as a way to network. Haute iPhone and Android applications like Quicket and Airsocial, and even some airlines, help passengers connect before takeoff—and at 35,000 feet. “Social and geo-positioning tools specifically designed for business networking equip users with the information they need to reach out and make a connection,” says Mark Hiland, senior director of digital product and portfolio management for media giant Gannett. “Ideas and information can then be exchanged via the mobile or tablet platform or inperson, but the initial contact is made through the app, which is of great value.” Not to be confused with geo-positioning applications that are geared toward romantic connections, these apps mean business. “Existing data clearly shows that people are networking on both short-distance and longdistance flights,” explains Djois Franklin Sronipah, cofounder and CEO of Quicket, a travel services app that also allows users to share information with their social networks. “About 30 percent of business fliers network proactively during flights. We believe that the trick is to find and maintain a delicate balance between intrusion of privacy and enabling communication.” From tools that let travelers know who’s on what flight to digitally striking up conversations between peers, here are a few forward-thinking apps to consider. Here On Biz At the center of the business networking app Here On Biz lies its geo-aware Rolodex, a feature connected with a user’s LinkedIn network that informs him or her where those contacts are at any given time. Locations could include airports or flights. The iPhone app allows users to easily find nearby professionals with similar interests and form Smart Groups. They then can receive mobile alerts when those contacts come to town, are on their flight, or attend the same hotel, meeting or event. Last year, Here On Biz partnered with Virgin America to keep passengers and their smartphones seamlessly connected with others on the same flight, or passengers on any Virgin America flight or in any Virgin America departure city. “We have strict filters for privacy,” explains Here On Biz CEO Nick Smoot. “It is possible in our app to only have your contacts from your LinkedIn network or office network to interact with and see you, or you can open up the filters and see all travelers nearby, and they can interact with you as well.” Qulcket This app puts a travel agent and social director in the user’s pocket. It allows travelers to track, compare and buy flights on more than 700 airlines, including low-cost carriers, all while studying airport maps, choosing which in-flight movie to watch and deciding whom to sit next to. The app, for both iPhone and Android devices, accesses Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram to discover who else is on a flight and where they are sitting. Users can also share seat maps with fellow passengers via Twitter and Facebook notifications. Co-founded by Sronipah and Fred Finn, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for “most air miles flown by a passenger,” Quicket has garnered the attention of major news outlets, thanks to its slick user interface and functionality that most business travelers, regardless of their interest in networking, will find useful. “Quicket is especially useful to business travelers, as it helps to streamline so many elements of travel, thereby saving users time and effort,” Sronipah says. “... It offers so many travel tools in one application. Rather than having to download and switch between several apps, our aim is that travelers can just use Quicket for all their travel needs.” Airsoclal AirSocial’s model and interface encourage use by keeping things simple. Once registered, users add past, present and future flights, and the app puts together an overview map of all travels, including total miles. Then, people can easily see who’s on flights with them, if those other passengers have registered their information. The rest is up to the user. The app, which requires Android 4.1 and up, makes it possible to strike up a conversation, make an introduction or plan to meet in destination cities. Travelers can also direct message others to exchange destination experiences, weather info and other travel information. Users can access the app through Facebook or an email address to have access to those contacts as well. The Bottom Line While the technology has excited many travelers, not everyone is convinced business travel networking apps are a game-changer. “[The apps] offer some cool features, but in practice they require many participants to have any value at all,” says Jason Clampet, co-founder of New York-based Skift, a travel industry data and trend tracker. “With few exceptions, that just hasn’t happened with social-driven travel apps. … How many business travelers want a live, in-person equivalent of a LinkedIn connection request while confined to an airplane seat?” “The main challenge for all travel apps is that average mobile users travel just two to three times a year, therefore travel app usage is sporadic,” adds Sronipah. “If you compare that to social or utility apps that are used on a daily basis, it is easy to see why retention can be difficult.” Airlines, too, have presented travelers with other options. Passengers of Netherlands-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines can connect through KLM Meet & Seat. The program allows travelers to share Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn profiles and check others’ who have done the same, then choose a seat based on those profiles. Delta also unveiled a program last year called Delta Innovation Class, in which people submitted their LinkedIn profiles for a chance to sit next to select “leaders in innovation”— like a James Beard Award-nominated chef, Grammy Award-winning musician and tech entrepreneur—on a flight, making it a mentoring program at 35,000 feet, according to the airline. The opportunities to more wisely use time in transit are enticing, but, as Clampet points out, the technology and programs that promise to connect travelers have yet to fully get off the ground. With the on-board Internet becoming less of an amenity and more of a requirement, however, frequent fliers should keep their eyes to the skies as they become more and more social.
Published by Firebrand Media . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Travel%3A+Making+Connections/2259208/271137/article.html.