Newcastle International has joined Southampton and Gatwick airports, in becoming the latest hub to embrace social networks as a means of interacting with regular and prospective customers. The northeast hub has created the @NCLairport Twitter page, and unveiled a mobile-friendly version of its website, allowing visitors to check the status of their flight from anywhere in the UK. The airport’s website says that the new tools are part of a plan to “join up social media tools with customer service operations.”
The airport’s Twitter page has been online for just over a month, but it was only revealed to the world, via a press release on Newcastle’s website, on January 27 2011. The Woolsington hub is therefore, making a rather belated entry to the world of social networking, behind almost every airport in the UK, including local rival, Durham, East Devon hub, Exeter, and in Scotland, Prestwick.
A glance at the @NCLairport site reveals that road works, flight delays, and announcements regarding resident airlines form the majority of the airport’s ‘tweets’. However, the website has also drawn comments, both good and bad, from visitors. Some, like @misspipkelly, requested a “bar or an area with Sky Sports,” while others, such as @peterjnixon, were concerned that the departure lounge “wobbles” in the wind.
Newcastle has created a special ‘tweeting team’ to address customers’ concerns. “We look forward to hearing from (our passengers) to see how we can help,” explained Graeme Mason, planning director at the northeast hub.
The Twitter service, whilst providing users with information in ‘real time,’ can also be a liability for airports. Last year, Robin Hood Airport’s Twitter page, @dsa_airport, caused a media storm when a visitor was arrested on charges of sending “menacing” messages to the South Yorkshire hub. The man, Paul Chambers, threatened to blow the airport “sky high,” after bad weather forced the hub to close.