I was at the Eye for Travel conference last week when I learned about something really interesting that Malaysia Airlines is doing with Facebook and their booking engine through their new app, MHbuddy. You can call this Social CRM or social media, it doesn’t matter, but what they are doing is definitely different for the airline industry. Companies using social media nowadays isn’t new but we are seeing some creative ways of social integrating it into existing business processes and functions. Imagine an entire social layer on top of your booking experience when you fly. Take a look at the screenshots below taken from Simpliflying who also introduced me to what Malaysia Airlines is doing.
The screenshot belows shows how users are able to search and book flights directly within Facebook. I’m not sure how the back-end systems are set up but I would imagine that Malaysia Airlines will now know when someone purchases through Facebook, how much they spent, what their social graph looks like, where to connect with that person through social channels, and how to market/reach out to that person at a later date (and perhaps their friends). In essence, the experience of booking a flight is now becoming “social” and is being translated from online to offline.
In the screenshot below you can see that users have the option of sitting next to their Facebook friends or at least seeing which one of their Facebook friends might be on the same flight as them. Now, I’m not sure how often I’m going to be flying with someone that I’m connected with on Facebook but the feature is certainly interesting; perhaps integrating something such as Twitter or Foursquare into this process might make it more likely that I’m going to fly with someone that “I know.”
Finally, we have the mobile boarding pass. We have seen airlines do this in the past but again it’s a nice touch to complete the experience.
Overall I think it’s a very creative and interesting way to leverage Facebook to book a flight. I think it would also make sense to allow visitors of the Malaysia Airlines website to log in using Facebook Connect to have a similar experience. This type of booking would also be very relevant for cruises, hotel chains, and other travel/hospitality brands in the industry.
What do you think? Interesting? Novel?