Spread the Word

FlightView system helps Roanoke Regional Airport put priority announcements in plain sight of the traveling public

Airport officials can release Tweets from wherever they are too. For example, if the airport director encounters snow so deep he cannot leave the house, and needs to notify passengers that the airport is closed due to weather, he can Tweet from his cell phone or his home computer. If a tornado rips through and knocks down power lines, he still may be able to send messages via his cell phone.

As part of the mobile site implementation, FlightView sets up a back-end system that Benjamin describes as a “really diligent Twitter follower.” This scans for Twitter feeds from the emergency notification system every couple minutes. When it spots a Tweet, the system posts it at the top of the airport’s mobile website automatically.

“We don’t have to bother our IT guy at all to do this,” says Wallace, adding, “for which they are eternally grateful.”


What’s in a Tweet?

A well-informed traveler is a happy traveler, says Benjamin.

And Wallace readily agrees. “This system is great for immediate, need to know information. And it gets to our customers. They don’t necessarily have to follow us on Twitter or look at our Facebook page to see it.”

It works best when relaying information about irregular operations, where things are not going as planned. The most obvious use of the system pertains to weather delays but it also can be used to report other issues. For example, if the road around the airport is being rerouted due to construction that might be a Tweet that airports want to put on their site. Maybe an airport parking lot is closed, so a Tweet stating Parking Lot C is closed for renovations makes sense. And, Twitter limits such posts to 140 characters, which easily fit at the top of an airport’s webpage.

While it hasn’t been that long since smartphones have been on the scene, they have definitely changed the way everyone—including airports—does business. Today’s traveler expects to have up-to-the-minute information, and is let down when they don’t. FlightView’s new system provides a way for airports to spread the word in a very transparent and rapid fashion.

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