As Twitter creeps further into everyday mainstream usage, we’re seeing increasing examples of it appearing in the offline world. The latest comes from Gatwick Airport, near London where screens have been installed encouraging users to tweet feedback on their experiences.
The screens read: “Are you on Twitter? Get in touch with us @gatwick_airport and let us know about your experience at Gatwick today”. Operational and customer services staff are being trained in Twitter usage in order to reply to any problems customers might have. Airport head of communications Samantha Holgate says “”We do already respond to comments via our Twitter feed, however this now takes it one step further by actually integrating social media into the physical space of the airport.”
Twitter replies from staff are currently only offered during office hours but with many flights from Gatwick leaving at unsociable hours, the plan is to extend the service to run 24 hours a day. Dirk Singer of The Rabbit Agency, responsible for rolling out the project said “This is the first stage of an on-going programme to integrate Twitter into the airport environment so that it is used as a customer response tool round the clock and in real time.”
Holgate says that the airport aims to make this a “24 hour response tool, so for instance no matter what time of the day or night, if a passenger is at check in and has a comment to make, we will be able to capture that comment and where appropriate action it there and then”.
Although the screens won’t display any actual tweets for now, Singer tells us that they are looking at displaying the information tweets that Gatwick sends within the next few months. There are no plans to display tweets from the public.
The problem with all this additional reliance on Twitter in the ‘real world’ is that it puts additional pressure on the network’s infrastructure; another reason why that newly announced Twitter data center seems like a very good idea.