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IcelandAir Loses Viral Marketing Opportunity

by Joe Manausa, MBA on June 22, 2011

IcelandAirIcelandair probably does not pay much attention to social media, and because of this they are missing the boat (er, plane) on a great viral marketing opportunity. You see, when an extraordinary customer service issue arises, it makes for great viral fodder, but if only somebody chooses to use it. This is word of mouth marketing at its finest.

You can help this post “go viral” and help a teacher in need. Please click on the Google +1 button and the Facebook share button above, and share this on Twitter, Stumbleupon and Digg below. Maybe we can get IcelandAir to do the right thing for a school teacher!

Often times these customer service opportunities will become viral marketing for or against a company regardless of the company’s activity in social media, and today is just one of those times. You see, Icelandair chose to tell a customer that he was not important, and I think it will end up costing them business. Of course, if this story goes viral, they will end up spending a lot of money just trying to “undo” the negativity from all of the commotion that is created.

It is important to note that Icelandair did nothing legally wrong, and they did not violate any contract terms either. However, there are times in business when you can make a judgement call that will cost the company a small amount of money but gain a large return in word of mouth marketing. Unfortunately, our short story is about the the exact opposite occurring.

So what am I talking about? How does viral marketing get started? How big is this “internet thing” anyway? Here’s a short story that will show you how a large company used its might to crush a small customer, when it could have used the customer’s reach to create goodwill for the company.

High School Teacher Rebuked By IcelandAir

So this high school math teacher from California decides to take the dream vacation of his life. He books a flight on IcelandAir to spend a summer in Iceland (how cool is that? … pardon the pun). But something goes wrong. The teacher gets hurt in an accident in April and now must spend months in physical therapy instead of going to Iceland. He calls IcelandAir and asks them to refund the money for his ticket, they return 1/2 and keep the rest because their contract allows for it. No big deal, they can do it. Nothing wrong. But more importantly, nothing right! And now a blogger in Florida is reaching out to social media and blog readers to use “word of mouth marketing” to let people know that IcelandAir just doesn’t care.

Think about the long reach of viral marketing and the internet. This is a Florida business marketing blog about a airline in Iceland treating a California customer poorly, and it will be tweeted to 100+ countries and over 200,000 twitter followers (and hopefully a lot more) everywhere. This is word of mouth marketing that works against IcelandAir, and all because they did not think about how this could help their company.

Think of all the money IcelandAir spends on marketing, and for what ($500?) they could have helped out a school teacher who is seriously bang-ed up (they’d get a stronger emotional impact from their marketing by helping a guy on crutches :)). But instead of making hay, they tell him they will enforce the terms of the contact … because they can. Even though he cancels well in advance of the flight, they are going to make a penny-wise, and pound-foolish decision.

Opportunity Missed

Remember, this is not an article about the big bad wolf, IcelandAir did nothing contractually wrong. They just missed a great opportunity to get some very cheap viral marketing from social media accounts all over the world. Not to mention the attention that it will receive in the blogging community.

So what will the headlines be on twitter:

Tweet this article ... help a disabled teacher today! Please click here to tweet this to your friends!

Sadly, it could have been (and still could be) a whole different story. IcelandAir (with your help and encouragement) could refund the entire amount to the disabled school teacher, and then we could shout it out and help them go viral. Either way, I say let’s shout!

You can click this link to send an email to IcelandAir and tell them they should help the disabled school teacher and refund his ticket. His airline reservation number is 2VXOOP (so they know which mistreated customer you are referencing). Please share this link on Facebook and help spread the word.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Darren June 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Thank you.

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Joe Manausa, MBA June 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I hope it helps Darren. Time will tell :)

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