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Enhancing the FT Flight Connect flight meet-up tool

Enhancing the FT Flight Connect flight meet-up tool

 
Old Apr 8, 15, 3:59 am
  #1  
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Enhancing the FT Flight Connect flight meet-up tool

While not an idea for a new forum, I think this still can be categorized as "the content and organization of FlyerTalk" and thus something Talkboard could process and suggest to the host.

FlyerTalk has a section called Flight Connect (in Community / Itineraries), where users can enter their flight details which is then displayed in a calendar. Others can then browse the calendar and find a Flyertalker being on the same airport or plane at the same time and even click "Add me" to the post.
This is nice function for lounge guesting and other impromptu meetings.

However, the task of entering flight details is somewhat tedious. Flights must be added one by one and the UI is not helping the user to do it very quickly either.

To measure the popularity of the function I have viewed the calendar over a few months. At any given day there are only 0-7 entries. The natural structure of this calendar is that it is most busy for the nearest future - still the coming 4 weeks has less than 2 calendar entries per day on average.
I believe however the potential of the function is huge. There must be thousands of Flyertalkers coming and going every day, and many who would like to share their details and are open to meet a fellow Flyertalker on the road.

The calender could also be used to display information about the larger, pre-arranged DOs. If the calender was made more visible and more popular, then each DO would be much better marketed to the community - Today you need to visit each forum to find out if they are going to throw a DO anytime soon.


Many members use other services to keep track of their flights. Either for travel management purposes or for statistical purposes. Services like flightdiary, openfligts, tripit, worldmate, tripcase to mention a few. What many of these services has in common is that you can import and export flight data en masse in a flat, delimited text file. That makes itinerary data easy for the flyer to transport to a second system.

If we could add a data import to the flight connect calender we would open the door for all those flyertalkers who already have a lot of flights on file.

Many other small changes could be done, too. One thing that pops into my mind is this: Making it easy to share lounge calendar and guesting preference, opens the calendar for those who do not want to share flight details, but are happy to guest. Perhaps send a PM when someone adds themself to the meeting?
And if DO arrangers started to use it, even more members would realise the calendar exists.


So, I am asking for a discussion on how the flight connect calendar could serve the community better, and in the extension for some development of it. I understand that we are limited to functions either existing in the software or easily developed. But with a great community potential, I hope the discussion can bring forward an action to enhance flight connect.
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Old Apr 8, 15, 11:15 am
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Any ideas to improve the connectivity of FlyerTalk members are welcomed by me, intuition. Thank you for providing some valuable and thoughtful input.

I would like to read comments pertaining to further improvement of the flight-connect calendar by other FlyerTalk members, who might be able to add other good ideas and input as well...
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Old Apr 8, 15, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by intuition View Post
Today you need to visit each forum to find out if they are going to throw a DO anytime soon.
I think you've raised a lot of good points... just wanted to draw your attention to http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/commu...st-thread.html in the Community Buzz forum that is very well organized and maintained. A subscription to that thread should address this one concern, at least for the timebeing.
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Old Apr 9, 15, 8:08 am
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There used to be a separate forum called Itineraries where there'd be a thread for each month and you could post your flight details. It was semi-popular for a while then it died off.

Based on how unpopular Flight Connect is, I'm not sure what the demand for this would be like. But let's get some feedback and see.
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Old Apr 9, 15, 3:28 pm
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This is a case where I wonder if people really would use the feature... might be interesting to do a Flyertalk wide poll to see the interest before going too far on this issue.

I am also not sure that this would be where we want resources allocated... heck, we cannot even get a decent chat client that has been promised for some time.

I know I am reluctant to post much information about my travels before taking trips... there have been instances of people saying their reservations were cancelled or "tampered" with by someone. Posting too much info on a calendar can make that easier....

I am betting most members do not even know about Flight Connect. It is relatively hidden.... why not focus on advertising the feature before worrying about changing it?

My recommendation would be to replace the "Calendar" link that appears on the Main navigation bar with "Flyertalk Member Connection" or some name change like that. That would give it more valuable real estate that should promote the feature. I find the Calendar feature worthless and this could be a great use of that space.

I would also encourage DO leaders to post their events on Flight Connect... thus my suggestion to change the name of the feature. If people started using this for DO events, I am sure it would gain traction for flight tracking.
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Old Apr 10, 15, 4:38 am
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Thanks, aBroadAbroad. I think I actually knew about that listing but just forgot about it. It is well maintained and works well.




As for the popularity (lack thereof) of flight connect - yes, it is a problem. Naturally, just making it work better doesn't make it more popular. There clearly is a risk of wasting resources if the usage doesn't catch on.

I really never have seen FT promoting any section or function before, so I'm not sure how it could be done. We usually work from things that already are popular - a thread will be turned into a forum once it is popular and diverse enough.

Is it even possible to work another way? Ie to first add something and then promote it, to create popularity? That is the progressive vs reactive discussion, I guess.

Adding DOs to flight connect will help with making the calendar more known.
From what I've seen, DO-leaders usually use tools outside of FT for support the daunting task of organizing it all. There is a perfectly fine logic to that - to focus on what you already are good at, and use stuff from others that also focuses on what they are good at.

Without knowing the capabilities of the current software, it is not possible to know how well it could support DO-leaders with some tweaking. Making the tool work for every DO-need is the wrong path to take, but it clearly could be used more even without tweaks. The DO threads usually lists a manually maintained "who is on what flight" - a function already present in flight-connect.

Anyway, I think connecting travellers is/should be a fundamental thing at FT and a site wide member connect would be beneficial to the community.
I'm still hoping this thread will catch on, but I am interested to hear posters even if it is just saying "no, don't think it will work".
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Old Jun 6, 16, 6:23 am
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May I bring the attention back to Flight-connect?


I believe a well-working global meet-up function is something that is in the true spririt of FlyerTalk.


I tried to dig up some history and apparently there was a initeraries-details forum that once was quite active, but was replaced by flight-connect. However, flight-connect wasn't good enough (and still isn't) so the effect of closing it was that meet-up discussions moved to local fora as described in this post:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12385348-post10.html


And after the recent closure and revamping of the BA meet-up-thread, there seems to be a trend of adding similar threads to other local fora. So there certainly is an interest in having meet-ups, but the current drive is to handle this locally in each sub-fora.

I do see the need for local meet-up threads/wikis. Many FT'ers might have established relations with other FT'ers through their mutual home carrier program fora and are likely to cross roads at some points, as they fly that carrier through its hub. A way to facilitate meet-ups on local level is nice.

But travel is global and local meet-up threads/wikis are not helpful when it come to connecting with FT'ers I have not yet formed an internet-relationship with or for those pesky long layovers in cities I never go to.

I still believe the flight-connect calender could work, if we only made it easier to use.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 9:30 am
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For what it's worth, the meetups aren't always done locally, there's also:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/commu...onight-11.html

I do agree though that having a better setup would be in FT's best interests, I used to always post my details in the old Itineraries forum but as you said, Flight Connect leaves something to be desired. I'll keep an eye on this thread and hopefully we can figure something out.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
I'll keep an eye on this thread and hopefully we can figure something out.
So will I.

Originally Posted by intuition View Post
FlyerTalk has a section called Flight Connect (in Community / Itineraries), where users can enter their flight details which is then displayed in a calendar. Others can then browse the calendar and find a Flyertalker being on the same airport or plane at the same time and even click "Add me" to the post.
This is nice function for lounge guesting and other impromptu meetings.
I just want to clarify that Flight Connect — as well as Lounge Connect — can also be easily accessed from the MEMBERS menu found at the top of most areas of FlyerTalk.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 10:02 am
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Currently there are some dedicated threads for meet ups elsewhere on FT, for example in some hotel fora, destination fora such as Thailand and China, that seem to work reasonably well.

Recently the BA forum shut down their lounge meetup forum due to guesting problems.

I wonder whether more people would post in Flight Connect if it were visible only to logged in members.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post

I wonder whether more people would post in Flight Connect if it were visible only to logged in members.
I seriously doubt if FTers aren't posting in Flight Connect because they're worried about their info (yes, I realized that wharvey mentioned a possibility & we all know you're huge on privacy so I'd be stunned if you ever posted in it), as much as

a) most don't know it exists;

b) most don't care, even if they know it exists because they come to FT for info on their programs & not to meet up w/ other FTers.

and even if it was restricted to log-in members, that doesn't mean those logged-in members couldn't play havoc (if one is going down that rabbit hole). Also we've learned from other threads/discussions that many registered FTers don't log in when they're reading FT. I would be against making FC a restricted area.

It would be interesting to see if we did an article on it in the next Talkmail newsletter, if there is any or a large increase in the use of FC following the newsletter.


Cheers.

Last edited by SkiAdcock; Jun 6, 16 at 12:33 pm
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Old Jun 6, 16, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Currently there are some dedicated threads for meet ups elsewhere on FT, for example in some hotel fora, destination fora such as Thailand and China, that seem to work reasonably well.

Recently the BA forum shut down their lounge meetup forum due to guesting problems.

I wonder whether more people would post in Flight Connect if it were visible only to logged in members.

My point is that meet-up information spread across several fora can be made to work well for each local crowd, but not on a global scale..
For example, if I am about to have 6 boring hours in SIN, it is not pratical to first check any Asian destination thread, then start to think "Hmm, BA serves SIN, better check their meet-up-thread" and then repeat that for every conceivable carrier.

And what if I am about to have 6 hours in SIN and 4 hours in HKG and 7 hours in DOH all in the coming week? Finding an ad-hoc meet-up will only work if there is one single and simple way of telling "who and who is in the same location at the same time?"




As with all internet things one must be careful what one posts. But getting a FT account is not very difficult, so requiring logged in status is not a high barrier that protects out posts.



Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
...
It would be interesting to see if we did an article on it in the next newsletter, if there is any or a large increase in the use of FC following the newsletter.


Cheers.
Indeed.
This is a volumes game. Only when many itineraries or lounge-where-abouts are posted, the chance of two FT'ers being in the same location at the same time is large enough for anyone to bother.

Last edited by JDiver; Jun 6, 16 at 1:48 pm Reason: Edit for privacy and edited quote accuracy
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Old Jun 6, 16, 12:54 pm
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I have no problem with my privacy, my issue with Flight Connect was it has a clunky interface and it's tedious to enter info. It's also not visually appealing when you're looking at a search.

Wikis in various forums work so much better (look at the Hilton Stay Thread or AA Lounge Access threads for example) at sorting data and making entering and viewing it easier.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
I seriously doubt if FTers aren't posting in Flight Connect because they're worried about their info (yes, I realized that wharvey mentioned a possibility & we all know you're huge on privacy so I'd be stunned if you ever posted in it), as much as

a) most don't know it exists;

b) most don't care, even if they know it exists because they come to FT for info on their programs & not to meet up w/ other FTers.

and even if it was restricted to log-in members, that doesn't mean those logged-in members couldn't play havoc (if one is going down that rabbit hole). Also we've learned from other threads/discussions that many registered FTers don't log in when they're reading FT. I would be against making FC a restricted area.

It would be interesting to see if we did an article on it in the next Talkmail newsletter, if there is any or a large increase in the use of FC following the newsletter.


Cheers.
I think it's this. I know from my own travels that I have limited time to socialize. I used to use the Itineraries thread, but not once did I ever meet or cross paths with anyone. Yes, I know it happens sometimes when folks spot a FT bag tag or the "meet up" threads work their magic. I just think there's a limited appetite.
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Old Jun 6, 16, 2:28 pm
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I would be interested in meeting other FT'ers while on the go. However I have some problems with the current Flight Connect that has made me hold back on participating. I think that the basics have been mentioned above but I would like to give my 2 cents as well.

- It is too tedious to add new flights. Everybody traveling often is using an app like TripIt - and all of these apps offer free APIs. My travel plans should sync automagically, preferably based on a flag or keyword that I set in the flight details. For example if I put #FT in the notes section, that means FT may pull the info. No flag - the flight data stays private.

- Privacy. Firstly it is known that public flight info will be messed with, so certain details should never be visible (PNR, E-ticket, last name, etc).
The second reason may be more specific to me personally: When I travel for work the destination is often quite sensitive. My base is in AMS so I can always share when I am in AMS for an outbound flight, but the flight itself (and destination) should not be published for these kind of trips. On the return the airports and flight data may be published - but only from around the moment that I arrive at the airport.

So these are some very specific rules to make it possible, for me personally, to post my flight info. I'm assuming that everybody has such rules - probably different ones than mine, but similar in structure. These things should therefore be configurable. Either through the FT interface, or through the notes that we put in the TripIt flight segment.

Regarding access to the data: Limiting it to only registered members is not going to stop anybody. Even search engine crawlers often have ways around this nowadays. Better would be a minimum number of posts (eg 1000), or even better, allowing to configure a whitelist of members (or people with postcount higher than X in subforum Y). I'd like to decide myself who has access to my data, rather than it being a generic rule.

I'm realising that these may be pages full of configuration options and I am fully expecting that this will be too much effort to implement. Seeing the state of the board nowadays (Months after the latest upgrade there is still an annoying bug redirecting me to some random old thread after login) I'm not sure if there is the technical willingness and knowhow to actually implement such features. But being an engineer myself - these are the kind of things that I personally would like to see

Last edited by Xandrios; Jun 6, 16 at 2:35 pm
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