BA has launched a social site called Metrotwin.com which acts as a travel guide to New York and London.
The airline seeks to cement its brand association with the London – New York route and hopes the site will help with that.
Chris Davies, British Airways Digital Marketing Manager, told NMK that the site had a branding purpose, above all, though it might be used to advertise the airline’s services in time. On the former, he said: “British Airways is a company which connects people. Social media is essentially about connecting people. We fly more people between London and New York than anyone else. Creating a community website about the best of what’s on offer in the two cities we know best feels like a credible and useful tool.”
Metrotwin combines controlled editorial input – the places that are listed and the articles it offers – with brief user reviews and voting. The main idea is to extend the idea of twin towns to individual places within each city. Kew Gardens in London is twinned with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The same principle is applied to things like bars and restaurants. The idea is that you know you like (say) Cafe Kick in London – what places are like this in New York? Users can suggest twins and either vote up or down these alleged similarities. Users can make their own maps and lists to help plan journeys – they can also ‘follow’ other users whose recommendations they trust.
Over time, the site comes to learn something of your tastes and is able to come up with Amazon-style recommendations based on the places you’ve already said that you like. It also creates aggregate scores for places to give them an overall ranking, hopefully revealing the best of what the two cities have to offer in a ‘crowdsourced’ manner. New places can currently only be added by the site’s managers, to avoid spam and maintain the quality of the listings. The site takes a pragmatic approach to the possible issues that can arise from user-led sites. Its editorial content brings together articles from approved blogs and online magazines published about the two cities.
The site was created by Made by Many and Headshift, working alongside Agency.com and BBH. It was made using Agile methods and the Ruby-on-Rails web development framework. This bore fruit, BA claims, during the initial development period, with a working ‘beta’ version delivered in 12 weeks – rather less time than the typical new website production period for a FTSE 100 company.