Update at the bottom of the article

It is well known that one of the major industries to really embrace the Twitter phenomena is the “Airline Industry”:http://simpliflying.com/2009/three-ways-airline-brands-can-make-money-from-twitter/. The first company to truly leverage Twitter in to a profitable business model was the successful low cost carrier “Jet Blue”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/travel/05prac.html?hpw. Since then there has been an explosion of carriers trying to reach out to customers and promote a variety of special ‘twitter’ deals. From major carriers such as “United”:http://twitter.com/UnitedAirlines to low cost carriers like “SouthWest Airlines”:http://twitter.com/SouthwestAIr and the aforementioned “JetBlue”:http://twitter.com/jetblue, but until recently none of the Canadian based carriers have leveraged the service.

But as June 28th, Calgary based “WestJet has launched it’s own twitter account with a series of free flight give-aways”:http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2009/26/c2375.html. The company which has built it’s reputation on exceeding the service expectations of customers and coupling that low cost fares, is one of the great examples of corporation that can really leverage twitter.

With this press release, it does look like WestJet is kick starting their service with a great campaign by giving away free flights to a random group of initial followers. This is a simple way to create a viral buzz and garner a solid base of followers. It also looks like Westjet is going to send out special tweet deals like their American counterparts have. Which are both great steps for building a great following.

-*Unfortunately, there is a gaping hole that WestJet is not addressing*. Now this is based solely on their press release, but it does seem that they have ignored the important aspect of customer service.-

As noted in a variety of articles and blog posts on the topic of the Airline Industry’s usage of twitter, the truly successful companies such as *JetBlue* and *SouthWest*, have really improved customer relations by utilizing “twitter to quickly respond to customer questions and issues”:http://www.socializedpr.com/jetblue-engages-in-real-conversation-on-twitter/. These companies have used the tool to engage their customer base by answering questions, helping with reservations, and addressing customer service issues. Which in turn has enhanced their corporate image and provided real-time friendly face to the customers.

Below is an example of the success of JetBlue’s campaign:

Morgan and I exchanged a few emails and I learned that Morgan is behind JetBlue’s tweets, and not a bot, and that Morgan is very well informed on social media ethics and aware that corporate use of Twitter can be tricky. *I am impressed that Morgan was watching Twitter closely enough to sense an issue, responded quickly, apologized, and removed the two of us from @JetBlue’s list*. This served as a demonstration of the company’s active participation in the Twitter conversation, its willingness to course-correct, and of the new speed of social media with which corporations have to contend.

Good or Bad, WestJet’s adoption of Twitter is a great step for the full integration of social media into the consciousness of the Canadian Public.

*So Kudos is in order for WestJet*.

*Update*: Shortly after launching the article and linking it on Twitter we received this fantastic response from WestJet.

So we’ll gladly enjoy our fine steaming slice of humble pie and completely applaud WestJet. If anything, this little exchange further shows the importance of not only leveraging twitter to promote your products, but to also use it as a real-time customer relations tool.