Skift Take

We can already imagine the thousands of clicks being heard across the Internet the first time an airline tests a large promotion to purchase a flight on Twitter. If they can figure out a way to use it build loyalty, they'll be even happier.

Taking advantage of flash deals for flights could soon be as easy as a few clicks on Twitter, which yesterday announced a pilot of its new “Buy” button.

A small percentage of U.S. users will begin seeing Tweets with a “Buy” button for offers and products. Users tap the button to view additional product details and enter their shipping and payment details for their information to be sent to the merchant.

Payment information is stored after users’ first purchase, making subsequent buys even faster.

No travel companies are included in the initial test, but a Twitter spokesperson says the company has spoken to several that could join the program in the future. The purchase process would work exactly the same.

“You can imagine how well the product would work with deals or discounts based on what users are tweeting or what they’re interested in based on their follows,” explains Twitter spokesperson Will Stickney.

The deals will appear in users’ timelines based on what they tweet and who they follow.

For example, if someone was on their way to the airport for a British Airways flight to London and tweeted, “I can’t wait to fly @British_Airways & stay at @FSLondon this weekend,” then the airline or hotel could tweet the user a discount for in-flight drinks or breakfast in bed. The user could then purchase either directly through the platform.

A broader campaign could include airlines promoting $64 one-way flights available for purchase directly through Twitter.

Many travel companies already use Twitter’s current premium products including audience targeting, promoted Tweets and Website Cards. Delta, for example, used Twitter’s paid products in December 2013 to increase bookings and Visit Myrtle Beach recently used them to drive clicks to specific pages on its website.

A potential challenge to travel companies is the thought and preparation that most consumers put into travel purchases.

One study estimated that travelers search 38 sites before making a travel purchase. Even if that number seems excessive, most consumers would like to compare dates and carriers before clicking “Buy.”

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Tags: twitter

Photo credit: A recent Tweet from JetBlue Airlines could one day be a prompt to purchase a flight in a few clicks. JetBlue Airlines / Twitter

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