(I guess it's the journalist in me.)
Anyway, I received an interesting email from Abby Lunardini, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Virgin America. She was nice enough to read my post (Thanks!) and offered some insight into the ways her company DID INDEED endeavor to use social media to prepare guests for the changes in the way her company handles airline reservations.
First, a disclaimer: Lunardini did not threaten me or even suggest I make alterations to my original post. She offered me a direct line of communication to her for any further information about the way her office used social media during this difficult transition. A very generous offer which I plan to take advantage of as this whole thing plays out.
Here's her email to me:
Saw your post and wanted to reach out informally in case you wanted to get more information on what we did on our social media channels to prepare for the cutover and how we communicated to guests in advance (multiple advance emails and social posts, proactively thinning our flight schedule, additionally staffing our teams across the operation including social, giving guests the option to change flights with no fees if they wished to avoid the period, etc). Our social team has been working 24/7 to assist guests since prior to the cutover and on a positive note within such a tough and unusual situation, the channels have been a real way for us to assist those having issues. As an example, we’ve sent over 11000 DMs on Twitter alone since this started to help resolve guest issues – for those travelers unable to get through to our call center.
On background: My quotes were specifically about the scope of airline reservations cutovers – which by their nature require extensive planning and advance notice to guests -- for further background: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/cutover-nightmare-the-challenge-of-it-transitions-343571/ We are undoubtedly the first airline to go through such a major transition however in an era where social is a real channel for guests. I also wanted to note that none of our flights have been delayed as a result of this – the issues continue to be web errors certain guests are unfortunately encountering (with services like change/cancel online etc) and then the resulting long call hold times.
She closed by saying what a fantastic writer, blogger and all around nice guy I was. Not to mention handsome. I am pretty sure her exact words were something to the effect of "Brad Pitt looks like a chimpanzee next to you"...ok, I made those last parts up.
I am impressed that she and her team are not only doing their jobs, using social media to keep guests from experiencing too much turmoil during this transition, but also monitoring the social media landscape for posts like mine which might not tell the entire story.
I tip my hat to them. That is what social media is all about: Communication. And Lunardini is doing it well.
I hope I can glean more information from her about the way they are using social media going forward and pass that info along to my readers.