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Drinking out of the Farnborough 2014 news fire hose July 13, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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4 comments

With 1500 exhibitors at the Farnborough 2014 Airshow this year, the amount of news coming out of the show is daunting. A quick look at the special coverage section of the leading aerospace news providers gives you a sense of how much information is being generated at this event:

Beyond these specialized news providers, information comes fast and furious from all corners including more and more “traditional” news outfit like Reuters, WSJ or CNN Business. So how do you sort through this massive amount of news and find out the information you need to know?

TWITTER TO THE RESCUE

The problem with such large industry events is that they assemble so many interests, categories, technologies, businesses, and geographies. Trying to find out “Australian Helicopter Engine News” across all the various sources of news coming out of the show is impossible. You would have to browse through many articles, publications and news sources to find just the information you need. You can see this happening every morning on the way to the show when people flip rapidly through the three different show news publications on the train and bus ride. Sure you could search the specialized websites (one at a time) for specific keywords or, God forbid, use Google News (e.g. Number of results: 100 Million)!

But because all the news organizations as well as many exhibitors are also well connected online, the majority of the news from Farnborough is posted on Twitter. And judging by these twitter statistics, it will be a record year for #FIA14. Critics will say that professionals should stick to their favorite specialized news source as simply following the #FIA14 hashtag on Twitter is “Like Drinking From a Fire Hose”. I say that it is time to connect the Farnborough fire hose to specialized technology and take advantage of this UNIFIED GLOBAL STANDARD AND COMPLETE NEWSFEED to find just the information you need.

CREATING YOUR OWN FARNBOROUGH NEWSFEED USING HOOTSUITE

The prerequisite to access the “news fire hose” is to have a Twitter account. If you don’t already have one, register for one. It is free and takes two minutes to set up. I would recommend to keep your professional twitter account separate so get an extra account if you already have a personal account.

To manage this account and to really take advantage of the information coming out of Farnborough, you will need a basic tool like Hootsuite. Once again it is free and easy to register a new account. Be sure to login using the Twitter account you just set-up. There are other tools and utilities out there that can do the same thing (e.g. Dassault Systèmes NetVibes Dashboard), but this is my favorite. The principles explained below can be used on other platforms.

Think of Hootsuite as a giant filter that you can apply to the information being shared globally on Twitter. By applying filters to the information that is coming across the stream, you will be able to get just the news you need with links to more details, regardless of the source it originated from. To do so, you will set-up this tool to show you customized streams (filters) in side by side columns, allowing you to track specific information. I recommend that you set-up Hootsuite through a browser first. There is a full “Getting Started” manual available online. You can always access your account through a mobile app later.

You can close (X) the standard columns that are created in Hootsuite and directly go to the “add stream” column on the right side of the screen. Select the “Search” stream and type “#FIA14″ in the search query. Click “Save Changes” and you will see a new column with all the posts from Farnborough streaming in it. You can set-up as many filters (columns) as you need and you can change them anytime you want. To refine the filter, you can use the “Preferences” function in the (V) menu on the top right of your column, to modify the search.
Basic stream
There are three options there:

  • Keyword – Use this function for simple searches containing up to three terms. For example, if you want any posts containing “Boeing” or “Airbus”, use these two terms as keywords.
  • Search – Use this function for more advance searches combining multiple criteria. For example, if you want posts from Farnborough about “helicopter”, use “#FIA14 Helicopter” (without the quotes). Click the “Show Examples” button to see other operators you can use in the search string.
  • Lists – Use this function to set up a filter to only receive the posts from certain sources, especially if you want to regroup a larger number of feeds together. For example, you could create a list of your top suppliers and create a column that would only show news from them. To create a list, follow these instructions in Twitter. Once your lists are created in Twitter, they will be available for selection in HootSuite.

Once you set-up your stream, your screen might look like this and you will be ready to go! This will give you not just the news you want but ALL the news you want.
HSscreen
Let me know if you found this useful, what tricks you might have used, or some of the other platform and tools you prefer.



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Tracking the #FIA14 twitter onslaught (UPDATED) July 13, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, International Business Development, Social Media, Twitter.
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7 comments

With all of the news organizations as well as many of the 1500 exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees of the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow take to Twitter to share their news, record activity numbers are expected throughout the week. Using tracking technology from Keyhole, I will report the numbers here throughout the show.

FRIDAY July 18 18:00 UK TIME
The trade portion of the Farnborough Airshow just concluded and it has been an historical event by all counts. Amongst these counts, the Twitter tracking has now registered over 40,000 tweets (10,500 original posts) from the show reaching a mind boggling 42 Million unique accounts. The posts came from all over the world and key influencers stayed the same throughout the week (See Tuesday’s update below). If you though that social media was not for the Aerospace companies, thing again.
final-tweet

WEDNESDAY July 16 11:20 PM UK TIME
I had honestly expected the intensity of Twitter information seen on Monday to decline dramatically. However, to my great surprise, it has not been so. Tuesday and Wednesday have seen 16,000 posts from 6,300 users reaching a total of almost 32 Million accounts. If you count the “impressions” (total number of tweets containing #FIA14 received by all the accounts reached), you get to an astonishing 111 MILLION MESSAGES. With the help of the excellent Dassault Systèmes NetVibes Dashboard, you can also see that the conversation has been dominated by the Airbus vs Boeing subject. That is not really a surprise, but now we can quantify it. (Click on the picture for a larger version).
d23-tweet

TUESDAY July 15 6:30 PM UK TIME
Twitter continue to be abuzz with posts from the show today. Numbers were similar to yesterday (see MONDAY update below) with again a peak of almost 1000 tweets per hours in the afternoon. I will post weekly numbers in a few days, but I wanted to see who were the biggest influencers on Twitter so far.
If you look at it in terms of the numbers of average re-tweets (meaning what you say is being repeated by others), it is interesting to see that corporation come at the top and form the majority of the list (Boeing, GE and Airbus are the top 3), followed by traditional news media (WSJ and CNN). The specialized aerospace media does not appear on the list at all.
Influence-RT
From the point of view of “Twitter Klout” (a score calculated to determine a poster’s influence on the community), the picture changes. WSJ takes the lead and corporations still occupy the majority of the list. But you notice that Aviation Week is the only specialized outfit appearing. Two ex-bloggers from Flight International (@jonostrower and @runwaygirl) also figure prominently in their new capacity.
Influence-klout
Now that Twitter information can be filtered efficiently, this data seems to confirm that the industry is going directly to the corporate source for raw data, but will turn to trusted commentators or added value providers to interpret it.

MONDAY July 14 9PM UK TIME
Twitter has seen historical numbers for an Aerospace show today, with over 12,000 tweets in the last 24 hours! Because heavy hitters WSJ and CNN were posting, news of the show reached OVER 23 MILLION twitter accounts. The only reason #FIA14 was not trending on Twitter is because of the lagging FIFA World Cup posts. As far as business events go, this is a huge reach! Note that during the first three hours of the show, tweets were coming in at an astonishing rate of 1000/hour!
Day 1-tweets

SUNDAY July 13 5PM UK TIME
The event does not even start until tomorrow, but there has already been over 8000 tweets in the official #FIA14 stream.
FIA 14 pre-tweet

This show has now provided the richest online content ever seen in our industry, and it was a great opportunity to tailor information to individual needs in a completely new way (See “Drinking out of the Farnborough 2014 news fire hose“). And if you were at the show, I hope you got to check out my “Six must-have apps for Farnborough 2014“. Finally, you can also read the “Farnborough Online Coverage Review” for a complete summary.



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Six must-have apps for Farnborough 2014 July 10, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, iPhone, Social Media, Twitter.
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The Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20 – #FIA14) is a huge tradeshow with over 1500 exhibitors, dozens of aircraft static displays, as well as aerial demonstrations. To get the maximum out of the show, it is important to get well prepared and organized. To help with that, here are the six smartphone apps you should pre-load before heading out to Farnborough:

AWEvents IconAfter evaluating the various offerings from the main aerospace news providers, I think the best show app is “Aviation Week Events” (See the full review). This app will give you a map of the site and exhibit floors, a list of participants with location, the news headlines, a twitter feed as well as many other features. This is the main app you will use at the show.

FIA14_hootsuite “HootSuite” is a free social media management tool that has become indispensable to sort through the online traffic generated at a show like this. This tool will allow you to create “streams” that can be used to filter the data coming over Twitter and pick just the right information for you. Even if you don’t tweet, set-up a free account on Twitter and download this app. Before you head out to the show, set-up streams like #FIA14 or for the list of sources that are important to you. This will help you tremendously if you want to listen or participate to the “virtual show” happening online in parallel with the physical show.

FIA14_evernote “Evernote” is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve your productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists, scan business cards, record voice reminders–and it makes everything searchable, whether you are at the show, at the hotel, or when you are back at work. It even searches for words inside the images! I chose this application because it is vastly superior to the notes capabilities of the Aviation Week app and solves the main problem of that app: all your notes are accessible securely on-line once you sync them.

FIA14_metoffice When you are going to spend a fair amount of time outdoors in the middle of July in the UK, it is important to keep an eye on the weather. Not just to find out what to wear, or what to bring, but also to know when not to venture outdoors. As the UK’s national meteorological service, the “Met Office” app provides accurate and timely UK weather warnings and forecast. Be sure to set-up Farnborough in your preset locations and to subscribed to notifications.

FIA14_journeypro The best way to get around London as well as to and from the show is via public transportation. “Journey Pro” is a free app that will allow you to manage the London tube and National Rail like a native. The app’s interactive maps will provide you with the best route using various combinations of available modes. Live service updates and departure boards are also available.

FIA14_london With “London Official City Guide” say goodbye to roaming charges and find the top ten best things to do in London no matter where you are. Make the most of your time in London with full offline access to maps and guides, as well as walking distance indicator. Use great local tips to find top attractions, things to do and restaurants in the city.

Don’t forget to check on your cell-phone carrier data plan prices and options before heading over to the UK. If there are other apps you think should be on this list, please feel free to make a recommendation in the comments below.



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Farnborough 2014 iPhone Apps Review July 8, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, iPhone, Social Media, Twitter.
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Two editions ago (Farnborough 2010), there were two iPhone apps available. When I reviewed them at the time, the Aviation International News (AIN) app was superior and seems a good match for attendees. FIA10 Apps Things evolved for the next show and by then there were four apps available. I was an attendee at that show and did not review the apps but they were in general a definitive improvement over the 2010 versions. For this year, however, there are now only two apps left: “AINonline” and “Aviation Week Events” (search for these terms in your App Store to download the apps).

AINonline Icon This “new” version of the AIN app is very disappointing since it as lost a lot of what made the old version so much better (see video of old app). This is now a very basic app with small but complete articles organized in “Latest News” plus 18 unique channels like “Defense” or “Rotorcraft”. The AINtv videos are also accessible through a menu. The (only) great thing about this app is that it is totally self-contained and does not require internet access. You can load the updates from your hotel room WiFi connection in the morning and read the news from the app on the way or at the show. Unfortunately, there is no longer a search feature to find the information you want nor is there a way to customize the bottom menu for quick access to the news channels you are most interested in. This app is now more akin to drinking from a fire hose.

AWEvents Icon The new version of the AviationWeek app is based on the highly rated Genie-Connect platform and has been used for multiple shows by AviationWeek. The functions available in the app vary from show to show based on the information available to Aviation Week to configure a particular event. For example, there were a lot more interactive functions at MRO Americas 2014 than there are for FIA14. So even though the platform could do a lot more, I will focus only on the functions available for this show. Please note that this application is very good but not ground breaking. In fact, if you look at the NBAA 2011 app, it already had most of these features over 3 years ago. Nevertheless, it is good to see Aviation Week stepping up their game.

FIVE REASONS I LIKE THE AVIATION WEEK EVENTS APP:

AvWeek Events

  1. Exhibitor list and interactive map - You can find exhibitors easily through an alphabetical and searchable directory. This is very efficient. Each exhibitor has a description as well as a booth location. You can link to a zoom-able interactive map that will allow to find them on the site. Some exhibitors also have contact information and downloadable content. The map also work in reverse, meaning you could click on a location and find more information on a particular exhibitor. All 4 halls as well as the chalet row are included in the app.
  2. Booth Tagging, Tracking and Notes – In preparation for the show, you can tag the booths you would like to visit and create notes for the topics you would like to discuss. The exhibitors you have selected appear in red on the map, so you can easily plan your path through each hall. Once at the show, you can update the notes as you visit the exhibitors and un-mark the booths you have visited.
  3. Integrated QR Code reader - The square bar-code like tags (QR Codes) are becoming more prominent in international trade shows. You can scan them with your phone and they usually translate into a URL or some other coded information. Rather than having to use a separate app for that, the QR reader is integrated in the app and saves all the scanned information for you in a simple list.
  4. Headlines Central - The app also includes the headlines from Aviation Week ShowNews, the Check 6 Podcasts, the static display aircraft list (although inexplicably incomplete at the time of this review), as well as the @AviationWeek and #FIA14 Twitter feeds. The nice thing about this content is that it can be downloaded when a WI-Fi connection is present and accessed offline. The bad news is that the full articles, the flickr photo stream, and the YouTube videos which can also be opened directly in the app require a full connection.
  5. The “My Event” organizer - This features allows me to access in one spot my personal notes, flagged exhibitors, QR codes as well as the events I have selected from the official calendar. This makes an easy reference for the information that I prepared before the show, the information I collected during the show, and the information I need to prepare my report after the show.

Despite all of these great features, there are still some major issues with the way the app has been configured for this show. Some of these issues stem from features available on the Genie-Connect platform that have not been enabled by Aviation Week, some others, are things I would like to see.

  • No personal data download - This is my biggest problem with the way the app is set-up: there is no way for me to download the notes , URLs and other lists I have collected in the app. To access this information elsewhere, in my trip report for example, it will have to be retyped. It is too bad that there isn’t a way to export or email all my collected content to myself.
  • Poor exhibitor contact info - In most of the cases, the contact info consist only of the exhibitor’s home country. I understand that the Farnborough organizers are not going to hand out the exhibitors’ phone numbers and contact details to a competitor so easily, but it would have been nice to have at least each website available. And when in a few places, a telephone number is available is should be coded with the standard international country code (e.g. +1) so the direct dial feature of the app can be used. Finally, the app platform offers a great “categories” feature that allows you to see the exhibitors by business type (e.g. implemented in the MRO Americas 2014 Event). Unfortunately, the information was not made available to Aviation Week, so it is not turned on.
  • Limited search capability - Although a good amount of data is downloaded in the app (4MB at the beginning of July), the search capability of the app does not include the ShowNews articles or the Twitter feed. It would be great to be able to save such searches in “My Event” and provide a link from the exhibitors profile to a search for their names in the news feeds. Also, the general search is useless for the exhibitor list because it indexes the full description instead of just the exhibitor name as it does in the directory section of the app. For example, typing “Boeing” in the main search page returns 40 exhibitors.
  • No social interaction - Other than the integrated ability to tweet/re-tweet directly from the app (which is really nice), there is no social interaction possible between visitors an exhibitors. I know this is not directly an Aviation Week show and that personal visitor and exhibitor information is not available as it is at MRO shows for example, but there are other ways to use this app platform to do it (Message me if you want my ideas).

In conclusion, I am pleased to see the progress made by Aviation Week with this app, and I definitely recommend that you download it and configure it before you head to the show. AINonline continues to have rich and in-depth content, but their app is a disappointment. They should simply provide an RSS/Twitter feed or actually go back to the old app if they want their content to be useable at all on a smart phone.



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When Aerospace News Happens on the Weekend… July 7, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, Online Supply Chain Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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737 in the riverBy now you may or may not have heard about the train derailment in Montana that sent 3 Boeing 737 fuselages in a river and teared apart another one. This happened on Thursday afternoon July 3rd, on the eve of the US Independence Day weekend.
In my recent post about the need for more Aerospace blogs, I made the point that the main Aerospace news outfits are now competing with traditional media on the internet, and that their added value should come in the form or opinion and analysis rather that just breaking news. This event was a perfect illustration of that.

NEWS REPORTING CHRONOLOGY

July 3 afternoon – Train Derails

Friday July 4 Morning (US is closed) – My Google alert flashes the headline in my daily report. I follow the search and find a dozen articles and web posts from general news outfits reporting (very briefly) the news and showing amateur pictures of the fuselages in the water. None of the main Aerospace news outfits (Aviation Week, Flight Global, AIN) have the information on their site nor in their Twitter Feeds. Jon Ostrower of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (formerly from Flight Global) tweets links to the reports and exchanges information with a couple of followers.

Saturday July 5 – Aviation Week (Guy Norris) publishes an article on the front page of Aviation Week. He reports the facts but does not show pictures even though by now there are all over the internet. He reports (correctly) that there might be impact on the Boeing supply chain. The article is mentioned on the Aviation Week Twitter feed. Nothing yet on the other websites.

Sunday July 6 – Jon Ostrower at WSJ publishes a full article in the Sunday morning edition with quotes from Boeing and the rail company. The article includes several pictures. A link appears in the WSJ and Jon’s twitter feeds. In the evening, Jon updates the article with a video of the crash site plus additional information from Boeing and the rail company. He is obviously talking to them. No updates from Aviation Week (not even a replacement of the stock assembly line photo by a crash photo which are floating freely on the internet by now), and still nothing from the others.

Monday July 7 Noon – No updates from Aviation Week but a few interesting comments on the article, and still nothing on Flight Global. AINonline finally posted a basic article at noon.

THE NEED FOR BETTER INFORMATION

So, what is my point? I am not advocating that Flight Global and AINonline become 24/7 news outfits. However, it would be nice to have seen a quick blog/news flash on Flight Global on Friday (they were working in the UK), and the same from AINonline on Monday morning when they came back to work (Update: They did ended up posting an article at noon on Monday). Kudos to AviationWeek for reporting on Saturday but they could have put a picture of the crash site (Am I too picky?).

But looking at this from the point of view of people in our industry relying on AviationWeek, FlightGloabl or AIN for their news, what has been the added value compared to WSJ or other general news outfits? I am not expecting a full article on Monday morning for this kind of breaking event over the weekend, but this derailment has the potential to affect 4 airline customers and over 300 suppliers. Plus it challenges the “just-in-time” supply chain model used by Boeing and Airbus. How about a blog that, at the minimum, asks questions about that? How about opinion from a supply chain expert? How about a view from a specialist or a scrap expert how the ability to salvage these fuselages?

Since breaking the news could not be done, at least let’s have the analysis. And if not in a full article, at least in a blog.



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More Aerospace Blogs Needed July 2, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Internet Marketing, Social Media.
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It has been over two years since my last post on this blog, and I have missed it. I was assigned to a very involved mission in Paris and did not have the time nor focus to continue my rants on these pages. But I came back on the occasion of the Farnbourough AirShow.

Much has changed in the online blogging world in two years, except in the area of aerospace coverage online. It seems that we are back to 2010 with much of the progress either stalled or furloughed. When the rest of the information world as turned to blogs in a major way, it seems that our leading aerospace news outlets have stayed entrenched in their old ways. Most of the great bloggers of 2012 have moved on to the “freelance” world or have created successful new ventures.

If you haven’t done so yet, check out the “Runway Girl Network”, a fantastic example of a missed opportunity for Flight Global. Read the profile of “The Network” contributors and you will see the talent that has been gathered by Mary Kirby for this venture.

I wanted to write of the importance of aerospace blogs in hopes of inspiring more people and organizations to embrace 2014 and start the discussion. First of all, many people (in particular in European businesses) ask me: what is a blog?

  • A blog can be used to summarize in a few paragraphs the information that can be found at a much deeper level in an article. Think about the coverage of a news item in USA Today versus the Economist. USA Today would be much closer to a “blog” with maybe 6-8 paragraphs, but Economist might spend a whole page on the subject. Effective use of blogs results in “executive summary” style news with numerous links pointing to more in depth information elsewhere. By the way, to continue this analogy, such blogs live below Twitter, which to me is the “ticker tape” at the bottom of the CNN screen. So you go from Twitter (news headline) to Blog (news summary) to Article (news details) [I call it the News Pyramid].
  • A blog can be used to express an opinion or a commentary on the “neutral and balanced” information found in an article. This is what you have seen out there and is probably the most popular use of blogs. That is certainly how I use my blog. It provides an electronic version of the “Opinion” page of the traditional media which is much more desirable than having an article “biased” by the opinion or leanings of the journalist.

With the “definitions” out of the way, why should blogs be important to our industry? There is no doubt that there are excellent journalistic and neutral capabilities in the articles provided in AviationWeek, Aviation International News (AIN), FlightGlobal, and many other publications. These articles have made these organizations the reference for AeroSpace news… until today. In my OPINION, it is no longer sufficient. There are several forces at play in today’s online world that must be considered:

  • News availability and volume. Information is available to everyone at very high speed and in very large quantity. I do not need to read AviationWeek to find out what is going out in my field of interest. For example in the case of the missing Malaysian Airline plane, none of the specialized publications had “exclusive information” that was not also available on CNN or Wall Street Journal. If I need to stay informed, I might subscribe to RSS feeds, twitter searches, and Google alerts all condensed into customized news viewers that will deliver me the essential information I need at my fingertips, instantaneously. I might still jump to Flight Global or AIN for more in depth coverage of a subject, but it might not be the first place I go. I might find specialized blogs that give me the “need-to-know” in a few paragraphs rather that long articles with very little information in them. What I want to do is develop a fine tuned “News Pyramid” to keep me informed. And to build that pyramid, I need straight forward blog and twitter sources that will give me the facts and opinions I need, as well as links to meatier information in articles and posts elsewhere.
  • The need for rationalization and explanation. To form their personal opinion on a subject, people want to compare and contrast the opinion of others. Journalists can only provide the “So What” answer at a very high level, because by definition they write for the largest audience possible. Even though there will always deny it, they are also “limited” because ultimately they are paid by advertisers and sponsors they do not want to piss off. But how do I find out what a piece of news mean to “me”? Where can I find someone to interpret or give me their opinion as it relates to my situation? Focused opinion blogs are the answer. You can have one major article that talks about the “Defense Budget Talks” with unbiased facts, and then have a number of blogs provide interpretations of what it might mean to the war fighter, the small supplier, or the ancillary service provider. Many subjects in our industry are so complex and subjective, that there is a craving for explanation and argumentation. Since the raw data has become so much more available directly (see first point above), the value of a blog should be shifting more and more towards an “opinion” or “explanation” service. Humans have come to understand over the centuries that there are very few universal truths and that it really is all a matter of opinion.
  • The cult of the personality. In the last seven years, there has been a shift from brand to personality. People want to “humanize” brands and feel like they are dealing people to people rather than people to brands. Think Steve Jobs for Apple, or the fact that you might know which Chef is in the kitchen of a Restaurant. The same thing is happening in news. People want to know more about the person reporting the information so they can decide their background and evaluate their trustworthiness. Just like a movie is carried by the stars appearing in it, aerospace blogs need to be carried by the experts that write for it. And the best way to popularize these experts is to have them express themselves in blogs. They can continue to write unbiased articles for publications, official press releases for companies, or make “balanced” presentations at conferences, but they need to bring out their “flair” in their blogs.
  • The need to interact. In a side-effect of what has been happening in their home life, people are now interested in interacting with the news reporters and opinion makers. Blogs are the perfect spot to provide a succinct subject or opinion request and start an informative and constructive discussion. Check out “AskBob” (ATP’s Online Forum for Maintenance Professionals) for a good example of a personal blog turned into a major interactive site. These interactions might in turn result in new articles been researched or written, new ideas for a company, or more interesting agendas for conferences. This direct interaction is becoming more and more valued by aerospace professionals (especially younger ones).

There are good examples of Aviation blogs out there, and here are some of my favorites:

But all in all, we need more of them if we want to grow this industry and keep up with the times. If you are interested in starting a blog, here is an excellent post on how to get started: “8 Tips To Starting A Blog“.

I would love to hear your opinions below. Let’s get the debate started!



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Why did ChangeYourFlight.com win Flightglobal’s website of the year award? February 7, 2012

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing.
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“It all started when five of us booked a trip to Paris”, says Iñaki Úriz, one of the founding partners of ChangeYourFlight. When three of his friends had to back out on the non-refundable tickets, he thought the airline could have made money had they known the three seats would be empty.  A simple concept was born: Would low cost airlines offer money in exchange for cancellation of a non-refundable seat they might be able to resell?

That is how this Barcelona based company got started. Úriz and co-founder Jose Vilar  put up some of their money for a prototype and then rounded up development money from friends and family. The partners had no IT or aviation background. But the two things they did have were airline consumer experience and design engineering backgrounds.

That explains why, when I first opened the website while judging the “Site of the Year” category for Flightglobal’s Webbies, I knew immediately that I had come across something very special. The concept was easy to understand and the design was simple but very slick. And, as Flightglobal’s Michael Targett points out, this translated into a wining website with fantastic usability.

The current concept took two and a half years of development. The site officially launched in December 2011 with Italy’s AirOne as its first Airline. In a phone interview last Friday, Úriz tells me that things have taken off rapidly for the website: “Air One is approving about a dozen voucher requests per day. And we are getting regular inquiries from a number of other European airlines.” For more background, on the company, check out this excellent post from the APEX blog. The company is now hiring IT talent and is actively looking for its next round of financing.

As a specialist in the use of Internet by the Aviation industry, I see my fair share of “new or improved” websites every day. The vast majority wouldn’t even get nominated for site of the year, let alone win it! So in my discussion with Úriz, I really wanted to find out what sets his creation aside and what other companies can learn from this example. Here are three things companies can learn from ChangeYourFlight.com:

  1. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. “It is not because something does not exist that it is a bad idea”, says Úriz. Too many companies perpetuate the same processes and approaches to customer service and relationship “because they have always done it this way.” Most companies need to start from a blank canvas and change things up. This doesn’t always mean building your own website by the way. Using marketplaces such as ChangeYourFlight can bring the benefits of innovation and standardization without the costs of development.  Noteworthy websites provide innovative and more efficient ways to interact with a company. Winning websites roll-out simple win-win processes that benefit all parties.
  2. Users Prefer Doing to Reading. The era of the website as a slick electronic brochure for the company is long gone. Sure, the company needs to describe what it does succinctly right up front (i.e. elevator pitch), but today it is all about customer interaction. Could airlines set-up their own customer support procedures to handle the ChangeYourFlight concept over the phone? Sure! But for Úriz, “what makes our success is that it is all self-service and information rich. You just enter your data, pick a few options and then wait for the answer.” Noteworthy websites provide self-service information portals. Winning websites provide interactive and influential action portals.
  3. Keep It Simple Seniõr (KISS). “We felt that it we had to explain too much, ChangeYourFlight would never be used”. Did you ever notice that the iPhone does not come with a user manual? Imagine that you had to learn all of the Microsoft Excel functions before you could start on your first spreadsheet. As a rule of thumb 90% of the complexity is introduced by the last 10% of functionality. So the secret is to provide a simple interface that handles 90% of the task at hand and cover the rest some other way. Noteworthy websites provide a simple way to handle the most common tasks. Winning websites handle all the situations with an integrated and layered approach focused on delighting the customer.

I would love to see more website use these principles by next years’ Webbies. But in the meantime, give me your feedback on this winner or these principles. And if you have a good example of a company that is doing this right, pass it along!

NBAA 2011 Online Coverage October 19, 2011

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, iPhone, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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2 comments

A week ago today, the2011 edition of the annual NBAA convention came to an end in Las Vegas. Although the show was a great success “by every yardstick” with over 26000 registered attendees, many business aviation professionals also rely on online coverage to figure out what are the industry trends. So, as I have done in previous years, here is my take on how the show fared on the internet.

News Outlet Coverage

As always the main aviation news outlet were out in force to cover the show. There were no less than 4 production rooms at the convention center where teams from Aviation International News, Aviation Week, Flight Global and NBAA relayed important information online. The content numbers were impressive:

  AINonline Avweek FlightGlobal NBAA
Articles 230 21 130 55
Blogs 2 18 12 0
Videos 10 0 13 18
Photos 54 75 18 216
Daily
Magazine
3 3 6 0

First of all, it was interesting see how NBAA stepped up in its own news coverage of the show with a team of freelance journalists and photographers. They produced quality material throughout the show and took advantage of their website and social media to distribute their content (some of it exclusive). Their website is a bit poor in potential interaction, but in my opinion, they did a better job than AviationWeek. AvWeek’s team continues to disappoint with the least amount of innovation, the smallest online content output and their ill-timed decision to part ways with their star reporter Benet Wilson (@AvQueenBenet) right before the show (although she did a very professional job covering the event for them from Washington).

For innovation, you had to look at AIN and Flight which both released a new version of their websites in time for NBAA. Both companies have recently invested heavily to upgrade their content management capabilities behind the scenes, which will allow them to grow the usability and features they can provide their online readers. At Flight, the changes were both cosmetic and premium user focused. It resulted in a redesign of the navigation features and (at last) in the introduction of a good comment function. As huge as these changes were internally, they left me and many other users underwhelmed by the new website. It is “OK”. I am sure the PRO users will get more for their money, but I did not get a chance to review that part of the site. For AIN however, the change in internal content management provided some much needed improvement to their old website. Because they switched to open platform Drupal, they were able to immediately take advantage of off-the-shelf widgets for twitter, Facebook and trending (showing the most popular article). It is definitely the most improved website of the four I reviewed and I really liked it. Because AIN continued to provide the most extensive content, in a well-designed new website, I think for the first time in my reviews, they have actually edged Flight Global for “best in show” (by the slimmest of margins).

With that said, all these news organizations continue to ignore the iPad as an important delivery platform at the show and off the show. These devices were everywhere in Vegas, and must be included in the content delivery plans of many aviation companies. Testing all websites for iPad compatibility is now a must. None of the four sites’ videos could be accessed directly (other than by jumping to the YouTube app). Furthermore, the daily magazines, available online on each respective websites, were not viewable on the iPad. And even though Flight Global and AIN have iPhone apps that work on iPad, but they have not been upgraded to take advantage of the content features of their new websites, nor do they feature conference specific filtering.

Social Media

Twitter was once again very active with over 2700 posts in the #NBAA11 during the show. The statistics from the archive show a healthy proportion of original content versus retweets as well as a crossover of users. Compared to last year the numbers are similar, but businesses were more directly involved with good interaction. A lot of companies took the opportunity to jump in for the first time, unfortunately most of them simply tweeted “Come see us at booth CXXXX”. Hopefully they have learned something by watching the event stream, joining others at the NBAA sponsored Tweet-up, or reading my advice (shameless plug!).

Amongst the companies most active in Social Media, Duncan Aviation continues to show exemplary behavior. They have been active on Twitter (@DuncanAviation) before and during the show, posted multiple blog entries, and deployed a show specific landing page that increased interactivity online as well as at the booth.

The Future

Technology continues to play a growing role in the world of aviation exhibitions. As mentioned before, the iPad was omnipresent both in delivering solutions, in marketing products and services, but also as an effective tool for attendees. The superior NBAA mobile app was also an interesting step towards changes that are upon us. For future shows, I think that the world of online and on site are headed for convergence with much activity taking place before the show online, while the actual onsite presence will become more efficient but will be shared online with others at the show and watching from afar.

Do you have any thoughts about NBAA or the future of this kind of show? Is there anything I missed online? Let me know what you think.

NBAA11 Mobile App Raises the Bar High for All Future Aerospace Shows September 29, 2011

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, iPhone, Management, Social Media.
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3 comments

If you read my critique of previous Aerospace trade shows, I have always said that exhibitors needed to do more with technology to get noticed at such events. Attendees have a limited amount of time to spend in the expo hall and they will be armed with a predetermined list of booths to visit. I am a big fan of mobile apps, and I have been looking forward to the possibilities of making trade show going a much more efficient experience. But so far, I have been disappointed with what has come out. For example, the 2011 Paris Air Show app was far less that exciting. However all of that changed this week.

For the 64th Annual Meeting in Last Vegas next month, NBAA has just released the official NBAA11 trade show app that sets the bar very high for all future large aerospace events. The FREE app, created by Core-Apps and available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android, is nothing short of brilliant. Finally!

FIVE BEST THINGS ABOUT THE NBAA11 MOBILE APP

  • No Internet Connection Needed – When you open the app, it updates the information if you have an internet connection. But to use the app, no connection is required. Everything is already there! Exhibitor info, maps, documents, news, twitter feed, etc… are all available as of the time of your last connection. This is an absolute requirement for large shows where connectivity is usually very difficult to maintain.
  • Booth Categories and Map – You can find exhibitors easily through an alphabetical directory or a category directory. This is very efficient. For example, if you are looking for a new base of operation, you can easily find in a list all the airport representatives at the show. You can then jump to a zoom-able map, exhibitor contact info, description, and (if you have connectivity) their website.
  • Booth Tagging, Tracking and Notes – In preparation for the show, you can tag the booths you would like to visit and create notes for the topics you would like to discuss. Once in Vegas, you can update the notes as you visit the exhibitors and flag the booths you have seen. At the end of the day or the show, you can email yourself all your notes for follow-up or reporting.
  • Events List with Personal Calendar – The app comes with a personal calendar for the days of the show. From the conference agenda, you can add the sessions that interest you to the calendar, then add your own meetings. And if your meeting will take place at a booth, the app will add the location information automatically.
  • Central access to important document and feeds – From the main menu, you can also access important documents, YouTube videos, and the NBAA Facebook page. This is a very convenient way to have all the event information in a central location although some of these features do require connectivity.

THREE THINGS THAT COULD MAKE THE APP EVEN BETTER

  • Trending and Social Networking – Since the app knows the exhibitors that are tagged and visited, I would love to see trending on a map. Rating and/or public notes could be additional information collected by the app. This would be a great way to find hot products or important innovations. If that trending can further be curtailed by my sector of interest, the opinion of renowned experts, or by the habits of the “friends” I have connected with (perhaps through LinkedIn), we could start seeing some interesting efficiencies.
  • Booth Tagging of News – As news gets submitted to NBAA over the wire or via press partners, the items could be tagged with the relevant booth numbers to make them available directly from the booth page. This would allow visitors to see the latest items relevant to the exhibitor right as they approach the booth.
  • Check-in and Directions – “Visited” flags are great, but “Check-ins” are better. It would allow visitors to keep track of where they have been, but also to provide them with direction to where they need to go directly on the map. Combined with the social aspects above, this would also allow colleagues to find each other on the show floor if the check-ins are made available to the network.

I know this app will be a huge success at NBAA 2011. And I hope that other show organizers take notice and build upon this strong foundation. Exhibitors should also push for this development as it is one of the best ways for them to rise above the fray at these large shows.

Do you have an opinion of this app? Are you planning on using it at the show? What has been your experience?

Five Mandatory First Steps for Corporate Social Networking September 8, 2011

Posted by ludozone in eBusiness Applications/Services, FaceBook, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter.
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Now that many Aviation companies have woken up to the fact that they can no longer simply ignore Social Networking as part of their business strategies, I am often asked what should be the right approach to get engaged. Below are the five first things a company MUST do before deciding how and when to participate.

  1. CLAIM YOUR SOCIAL BRAND.
    It is important for companies to realize that, for the most part, trademarks do not carry over to the cyber world. Just like with domain names, companies do not have a guarantee that their brand name will be available in social sites. For example, @Boeing on Twitter is NOT owned by Boeing Corporation. So the first thing to do is to claim accounts in all the main sites before they are gone. You can use namechk.com to find availability in a single search. You should probably claim the most important sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress/Blogger, and Flickr. Set-up the accounts using new email addresses like twitter@mycompany.com to maximize flexibility in the future. Grab all the main accounts even if you might not use them in the future. If a key site is not available, pick one brand for the majority of the sites and a derivative for the unavailable sites. For example “MyCompanyVideos” might be a good alternative on YouTube. Keep a central register of all your Social Media accounts with usernames, passwords and associated email accounts. Leave the accounts’ public profiles to the bear minimum until you are ready to use them.
  2. ORGANIZE YOUR LINKEDIN UNIVERSE.
    Search for your company on LinkedIn. Claim the company profile and edit it to your satisfaction. Include links to key parts of your website (i.e. careers), and review the groups that might already be related to your business. Create two official groups: MyCompany News (public group managed by your marketing folks), and MyCompany Current Employees (private group managed by HR). Leave them empty for the moment (more on that in step 4 below). Take stock of your employees already on LinkedIn and make a general quality assessment of their profiles.
  3. ORGANIZE YOUR TWITTER UNIVERSE.
    It is very likely that if you end up using Twitter, you will have multiple accounts. For example, you might use @mycompany as the main account but you would have @mycompany_jobs for career opportunities and discussions. Think about the account structure you would like to have and register the key accounts you might need. If @mycompany is available, it is unlikely that that @mycompany_anything would be taken. This is not as much to grab the actual accounts as it is to establish a nomenclature and structure for your future accounts. As with step 1 above, don’t forget to set up distinct email addresses for each account and put them in your register. Remember also that key members of your staff might have personal twitter accounts that should not be mixed in with their business activities. For example, Bill Smith might be your CEO and he might be active as a volunteer in the community. He might use @BillSmith for his private posts and you might want to create a @mycompany_CEO for his business posts. Do not create
    @mycompany_BillSmith because you will have to change it if/when he leaves. Instead put his name in the profile and change it when necessary. It works the same way with the associated email address which should be CEO@mycompany.com rather than BillSmith@mycompany.com. Make sure to create a @mycompany_employees account which you will use in your policy enforcement (see step 4 below). Set-up minimum profiles for each accounts and clearly indicate in the profile if these accounts are dormant to avoid any misunderstanding or judgment. Finally, set up the accounts structure in HootSuite or TweetDeck to be able to read/manage the multiple accounts in a single powerful interface.
  4. ESTABLISH A SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY.
    The good news here is that most of what needs to be covered should already exist in other policies. Social Networking is really not different than email, although you might have less ability to control distribution. You need to simply remind employees that amongst others, your confidentiality, responsibility, and harassment policies fully apply to social media and will be enforced equally. In addition, you should mandate that your employees declare their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to you. This is simply to enforce your policy. You do not need access to these accounts, connect with them, or “friend” them. You just need to know that they exist. You should encourage your employees to keep their Facebook accounts locked and perhaps offer them a class on how to set that up. You should follow every employee’s Twitter accounts from your @mycompany_employees account to monitor potential breaches of policy. Employees should also be required to “like” your FaceBook page so they don’t miss important public news and announcements. Finally, you should mandate that everyone who has an account on LinkedIn join the private “MyCompany Current Employees” group for internal communication and discussions (Tip: LinkedIn has the ability to create subgroups for specific projects/departments). As an appendix, you should publish a list of all your Social Networking accounts with a clear responsible person or department associated with each.
  5. LISTEN BEFORE YOU TALK.
    After you have established all the accounts and policies listed above, it is now time to listen. DO NOT start posting “Hello World” messages on all the platforms. Each tool must be part of a coordinated Two-Way communication strategy. Be sure to set-up Google alerts for your company, products and areas of expertise. Set-up saved searches in HootSuite or TweetDeck to mine the Twitter conversations. Join a few key groups in LinkedIn and set-up weekly group email reporting. Create reporting metrics to quantify the activity you witness in each channel. Listening to the conversations that are taking place, finding out where your audience “hangs out” (including employees), and deciding what channel to use for what purpose is extremely important to developing a strong social networking presence.

After you accomplish these five steps, you can start to define your approach and goals. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try small projects. That is the best way to learn. You might want to read my post on “How to effectively combine website, blog, and Twitter?” for some ideas of how to move forward. But even if you decide to stand back for a while and just listen, at least you will be assured that a strong Social Networking foundation has been set up for your company and employees.

Do you have questions about these five steps? Are there other things you think should be added? Please leave your questions and comment below or email me directly.


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