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From social media business to social business; introducing KLM’s Meet & Seat initiative

The Dutch aviation giant KLM is well known for their interaction with customers on social media platforms. With swift and often humorous responses they – quite literally- manage to help customers along their journey. However, next to being activing on social media, KLM has been increasingly eager to change into a social business as a whole. The Meet & Seat initiative was the first step in doing so, allowing for collaboration and co-creation with its customers.

KLM’s Meet & Seat allows passengers to choose who they will be sitting next to. Passengers can view other passenger’s Facebook and/or LinkedIn profile details before departure. Meet & Seat can aid in finding interesting people who will be on the same KLM flight. This can be people who work in the same business as you, or people that go to the same event as you at your destination. Although not everything can be extracted from a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, it does empower passengers and gives them the opportunity to make their trip more enjoyable.

Meet & Seat is integrated in the standard booking process. To date, it is only available for those who travel alone, as it would be too complicated to move entire families and account for different interests. Using Meet & Seat involves three steps:

1. First, you will be given the option to link your Facebook or LinkedIn profile. You can select yourself what information you want to make public. In addition, you will be asked what languages you speak to ensure you can indeed communicate with your desired fellow passenger.

2. Next, you will be presented the occupancy map of the plane; here you can see which passengers have linked their social media profile to their booking. You can here check who they are with what purpose they are travelling.

3. You choose your seat. If you happen to find an interesting person it is optional to already establish contact via Facebook or LinkedIn.


Initially, the Meet & Seat initiative raised some eyebrows with regard to privacy concerns. In the current era in which personal information is more valuable than ever, people questioned the motives of KLM for introducing Meet & Seat. To tackle this, KLM has stated on their website that profile details will not be used for other purposes than Meet & Great. In addition, KLM’s default option is that an individual does not take part in the Meet & Seat experience.

What do you think of KLM”s Meet & Seat? Would you be eager to try it, or would your perhaps use it to Seek & Avoid rather than to Meet & Seat? Or, alternatively, could this turn into a new dating platform? I am particularly interested if KLM upholds its promise not to use personal information for purposes other than Meet & Great. Lastly, it is interesting how KLM’s Meet & Seat initiative stacks up against other applications such as WorldMate. WorldMate is an existing mobile application that offers a Meet & Greet-like function together with itinerary assistance as well as hotel recommendations.

Borgman, H. (2013). Is this seat taken? Retrieved from

What Makes a Helpful Online Review?

We have all been there; browsing for too long on or trying to find that one review that could be the decisive factor in buying (or not buying) that specific product. But what exactly is it that we are looking for? What makes one review more helpful than another? The article of Mudambi and Schuff (2010) tries to find the answers to these questions by reviewing almost 1600 reviews on throughout several products and product categories.

When browsing online, individuals are presented an increasing amount of customer reviews; these reviews have proven to increase buyers’ trust, aid customer decision making and increase product sales (Mudambi, Schuff & Zhang, 2014). In addition, customer reviews can attract potential visitors and can increase the amount spent on the website.  Hence, retail sites with more helpful reviews hold greater potential to offer value to consumers, sellers as well as the platform hosting the customer reviews.

In order to increase the helpfulness of customer reviews, several websites such as and ask the question “was this review helpful to you?” and list more helpful reviews more prominently on the product information page.  Mudambi and Schuff (2010: 186) define a helpful review as a “peer-generated product evaluation that facilitates the consumer’s purchase decision process”.

The article distinguishes between two types of goods when looking for products online: search goods and experience goods. Search goods possess attributes that can be measured objectively, whereas the attributes of experience goods are not as easily objectively evaluated, but are rather dependent on taste. Examples of search goods are printers and cameras; examples of experience goods are CD’s and food products.

Past research showed conflicting findings as to whether extreme ratings (rating very negatively or very positively) are more helpful that moderate reviews; some argue that extreme ratings are more influential, whereas others argue that moderate reviews are more credible. Mudambi and Schuff (2010) argue that taste often plays a large role with experience goods as consumers are quite subjective when rating; hence, consumers would value moderate ratings of experience goods more, as they could represent a more objective assessment (H1).

Next, Mudambi and Schuff (2010 scrutinize the review depth of customer reviews. Since longer reviews often include more product details, and more details about the context it was used in, the authors hypothesize that review depth has a positive impact on the helpfulness of the review (H2). Nevertheless, the review-depth of a review might not be equally important for all products. Reviews for experience goods often include unrelated comments or comments so subjective that they are not interesting to the reader. For example, movie reviews often entail elaborate opinions on actors/actresses that are not important for the reader. On the other hand, reviews of search goods are often presented in a fact-based manner as attributes can be objectively measured. As a result, it is argued that review depth has a greater positive effect on the helpfulness of the review for search goods than for experience goods (H3).

By evaluating almost 1600 reviews (distributed over 6 products; 3 experience goods and 3 search goods) and excluding the ones that did not get any vote whether it was helpful or not, the researchers were able to confirm all three hypotheses. The article teaches us that there is no one-size-fits-all method as to what makes a reviewhelpful. Experience goods prove to be less helpful with extreme ratings, whereas search goods benefit from in-depth reviews.


Mudambi, S. & Schuff, D. (2010). What Makes a Helpful Online Review? A Study of Customer Reviews on MIS Quarterly, Vol 34 (1), pp 185-200.

Mudambi, S., Schuff, D. & Zhang, Z. (2014). Why Aren’t the Stars Aligned? An Analysis of Online Review Content and Star Ratings. IEEE Computer Science, 3139 -3147.

The Future of Health Care?

Applications for sports and fitness activities were predicted to rise by 63% from 2012 – 2017. With the abundance of fitness and health applications currently available, we have become increasingly health conscious; we can now track our kilometres run, our steps walked, our current heart rate as well as our daily calorie consumption. However, this sheer amount of data is spread out over different platforms and makes us sometimes forget what is really important. In order to change this, the Radboud UMC (Dutch Hospital in Nijmegen) is planning on fully centring around the customer/patient within the health care process. Together with Philips and cloud-software provider Salesforce they have invented a combination of a personal health file and an online community which serves as an connectivity platform for medical equipment, wearables and applications. This electronic platform is called Hereismydata.

The platform Hereismydata focuses on data such as blood pressure and heart rate, but is also able to incorporate weight or daily exercise. Hereismydata is not necessary only for people who have a condition, but is also for people who are just eager to keep track of their own medical data. Individuals themselves can decide who they give access to their data. In most cases this is a family member and a general practitioner. Hereismydata can serve as a preventive measure; if general practitioners or doctors see that your heart rate and blood pressure are suddenly rising, a patient can be contacted to clarify this sudden increase. In this case fatalities can be prevented rather than treated once they have occurred.

The adoption of a platform such as Hereismydata causes a certain paradigm shift. Individuals will no longer be just patients, they will become co-creators of their personal health file to which they have access themselves. Nonetheless, in order to make Hereismydata a success, both sides of the market need to be leveraged. Both doctors/ professional caretakers and individual will need to join the platform to realize its full potential. If, however, hospitals are willing to connect and work with the platform, individuals can truly benefit of their own generated data.

It is predicted that in 2040 the care needs in the Netherlands will double, while the amount of caretakers will diminish. A nationwide electronic patient database could be start to overcome these dreary prospects. By empowering the patient and by giving both the patient and the doctor access to health data, I believe a lot of healthcare costs can be prevented. The scope of this project and the privacy issues could, however, be limiting factors with regard to the implementation of the platform. On the bright side, Arthur Govaert, CIO at Radboud UMC commented that Hereismydata is currently being piloted on a handful of patients in the Netherlands. Will it be a matter of time before everyone has its own electronic patient database?


Interview with Arthur Govaert (CIO Radboud UMC) on the 10th of March, 2015