Virgin America Takes Mobile, Social To New Heights


Virgin America is taking social media to new heights with the launch of a Terminal 2 Takeover promotion in conjunction with today's opening of the airline's new home terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

A location check-in leaderboard encourages fans to explore the new Virgin America Terminal 2 and check-in via Facebook and Foursquare.

The promotion was created by San Francisco-based Context Optional, a social marketing solutions company, using an application that dynamically aggregates and displays mobile phone location check-ins by Facebook and Foursquare users.

In order to participate and be featured on the leaderboard, users need to first agree to Facebook's terms of service on the "Terminal 2 Takeover" application located on the Virgin America Facebook Page at Prizes -- such as T-shirts, free WiFi codes and even free flights -- will be awarded to those at the top of the leaderboard.



Users will receive status badges based on how many check-ins they have to encourage checking in to multiple locations in T2, according to Jill Okawa Fletcher, social media and communications manager for Virgin America. The social media experience aims to engage consumers and recognize and reward the first users of T2, she adds.

The promotion is likely to generate a lot of buzz for the Burlingame, Calif.-based airline, says Henry H. Harteveldt, Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst, airline and travel research. "I like the fact that they are using both Facebook and Foursquare; that's smart. It shows Virgin's ongoing commitment to and engagement with social media, which is a big part of their customers' lives."

What's unclear to Harteveldt, however, is how this promo will help the airline make more money. "I think that part of the challenge is, with social at least, how do companies use social to generate revenue?" he says.

Virgin is not the only airline using social media in creative ways, he adds. KLM has a noteworthy social media program that includes surprising travelers with gifts and a "secret cities" program. "But Virgin is definitely among the leaders, as they always have been, with the use of social media," Harteveldt says.

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