A vision of the future from Virgin America & Salesforce

Virgin America is once again going to change up the airline passenger experience- this time using Chatter, Salesforce’s wildly popular corporate social media platform. (Sort of like an internal Facebook for companies.)

This initiative was announced at the big Dreamforce conference held here in San Francisco last month with a video interview with Virgin CEO David Cush (above), and presentations by Salesforce execs with their grand plans on how it will all work.

Virgin spokesperson Abby Lunardini told The BAT that many of the stories in the blogosphere regarding the rollout of the initiative are premature. She said that Chatter will be launched internally later this fall, which should help bring  behind-the-scenes communication among employees into real-time. But she emphasized that the rollout of Chatter onto Virgin’s customer-facing seatback RED system is still in the distant future. So what follows is what we’ll eventually see. But not for a while. A man can dream, right?

So, at some point, maybe in 2013, Virgin’s seatback video screen will greet you by name and know your Elevate status when you sit down on your flight. It will offer you food and drink based on what you’ve ordered on previous flights.

If your flight is delayed, it will push information to your seatback regarding connecting flight information or changes- and provide you with alternatives before you land. It will also provide access to your Elevate account.

If you’ve chosen to provide Virgin with access to your Twitter or Facebook accounts, it will let you know if you have friends sitting nearby- and connect you with them for an inflight chat if you’d like. If you tweet or post on Facebook regarding positive or negative experiences during your flight, someone from Virgin America might respond.

Virgin customer service employees will also be using Chatter to communicate with each other… and with passengers in-flight or on the ground… using iPads. So, for example, a high high-ranking member of Elevate arriving on a late flight and in danger of missing a connection could be greeted by a smiling Virgin employee holding an iPad displaying a sign with the flyer’s name and photo- and then escorted quickly to the waiting flight.

What do you think? Is this new social enterprise solution going to improve your experience with Virgin America? Or will it feel like an invasion of your privacy? Please leave your comments below. 

>by Chris McGinnis

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