If you fill it we’ll fly it

Can you say that you truly listen to your supporters? I recently heard this great story about KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

KLM have a social media strategy that they use effectively to communicate with their customers, for example getting information to customers quickly when the Icelandic volcano erupted in 2010.

In 2011 KLM announced (on Twitter) that they were adding a direct service between Amsterdam and Miami starting on 27 March.

They got a response (also on Twitter) that it was too late for the dance festival in Miami that began on 25 March. A video producer Wilco Jung tweeted to KLM and the online Dutch electronic-dance community:

fly to miami KLM tweet




Martijn van der Zee, KLM’s vice-president for e-commerce, went to the airline with the idea. KLM liked it, and offered to add a special flight, if the dance community could guarantee 150 passengers within a week to 10 days. Jung and his DJ friend Sied Van Riel seized the challenge. They created a website, www.fly2miami.nl, where potential passengers could register, and spread the word about the flight through online dance magazines, radio stations, and, of course, Twitter.

In just five hours there were 350 applications for seats. (The plane only holds 280)

The resulting flight left Amsterdam for Miami on 21 March, and is thought to be the first one ever to be scheduled by Twitter demand. They turned it into a party plane.

party flight

Two success factors are that KLM already had a good Twitter following and the dance community was also very active on Twitter. They also took action very quickly. Apparently KLM even got a tweet from Boeing saying, ‘Way to go.’

I love this story because KLM listened to their customers and then took action. If an equivalent situation happened in your organisation – would it be able to respond so quickly?

This article was first written for Innovation (Still) Rules – an innovation and creativity guide for not-for-profit organisations. You can download the full report for free here on the nfpSynergy website. 

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