April 05, 2010

Low Fare, High Society

Somebody somewhere has the unenviable task of teaching Mr. Michael O'Leary how to 'smile nice and talk pretty'.

At least, I'm guessing as much with the recent news from our client Ian Cleary over at Razorcoast that Ryanair is finally flying the social media route. True to form however, the airline isn't joining in anyone else's community. No, it's planning to set up a private group for travellers to communicate with one another and with Ryanair.

Here's Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara's take on social media:

“Smaller airlines trying to gain market share may engage with it, but from our point of view, being so big, it would take a lot of resource,” he said. “We don’t have people sitting around to answer questions. With social media you get any and every query and a lot of rubbish, like people asking if they can bring a 10kg bag, which of course you can. The information is there on our site.”

Whilst some industry analysts have taken this latest online move as an indication that Ryanair is opening up to its community, I'm not so sure. Its attitude to mixing with customers is more more likely reflected in its announcement last year that "it is Ryanair's policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers."

Hmm, not much smiling nice and talking pretty there.

It seems to me, that given the influence that Ryanair has on its customers, a community of its passengers could be a fairly hostile place, with people jumping queues, ignoring each other and shouting one another down.

In a previous post some years ago, I suggested that Ryanair seems to bring out the worst in people, both cabin crew and customers, so it's hard to take seriously the notion that the airline is planning to socialise with its customers in any way.

Whilst I never underestimate Michael O'Leary and his ability to commandeer a slot for the airline, I can't see Ryanair managing to put the social into high society.

Over To You: Do you think Ryanair can successfully fly the social media route through its new Ryanair community?