Visibility of the Airport Sector: Web 2.0 and Social Communication Networks

Visibility of the Airport Sector: Web 2.0 and Social Communication Networks

Arturo Haro de Rosario (University of Almería, Spain), Carmen Caba Pérez (University of Almería, Spain) and María del Mar Sánchez Cañadas (University of Almería, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4373-4.ch024
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The aim of this chapter is to analyse the use of social communication media and Web 2.0 tools at airports to determine whether these technologies are being used as a means of raising the airports’ visibility, enhancing their level of e-participation and improving corporate dialogue. In addition, the authors seek to determine which variables influence the use and development of these tools. The results obtained reveal a moderate use of Web 2.0 tools by airports, with the most noteworthy finding being their presence in social networks and the use of the latter as channels through which to increase e-participation.
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In recent years, advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have brought about a transformation of society that has affected companies’ organisation and management (Bonsón, Escobar, and Flores, 2006; Serrano, Fuertes, and Gutiérrez, 2007). Thus, applications based on Web 2.0 are changing relationships between society and business. This situation means that customers are making increasing use of the Internet as a tool to express their experiences with organisations, and that potential consumers make purchasing decisions, for products or services, on the basis of the information found on the Internet.

In this sense, let us refer to the phenomenon of transparency, which is gaining increasing importance in society due to the constantly increasing demand for information. Numerous studies have shown that information is ever more highly valued within the community (Oyelere, Laswad and Fisher, 2003; Petersen and Plenborg, 2006; Birt et al., 2006; Lim, Matolcsy and Chow, 2007). The transparency of an organization depends on the degree or extent to which it explains itself to its stakeholders, and so the two phenomena, the development of new technologies and that of transparency, are closely linked today. Let us also refer to a concept that is rising fast in public view, namely e-participation. Generically, this includes the processes that facilitate and enhance the direct involvement in decision-making and in the generation of alternatives by those affected by such decisions, through the use of participatory channels based on ICTs, such as Web 2.0 or social networks.

As an evolution of Web 1.0, O'Reilly (2005) coined the concept of Web 2.0, based on the use of new technologies such as RSS channels, podcasting, mashups (combining existing applications), folksonomies (social indexing), widgets (mini Web applications) and resource-sharing environments (to store and share data online). And it is on this technological base that the social media have been developed, these being applications that offer services to online user communities, such as blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, multimedia sharing applications or social networks. All of these instruments facilitate collaboration, joint learning and the rapid exchange of information among users.

Any organisation can greatly improve its corporate Website by incorporating Web 2.0 services and technologies (Jiang, Raghupathi and Raghupathi, 2009), thus creating relationships with stakeholders who, with traditional means of communication, had previously been inaccessible or invisible (Hearn, Foth and Gray, 2009).

In this respect, the term “Enterprise 2.0” was introduced by McAfee in 2006, such term referring to the use of Web 2.0 applications in a business context. Enterprise 2.0 illustrates how a correct implementation of Web 2.0 and its tools not only aids the socialisation among organizations but also improves the resolution of problems, the leveraging of experience, the generation of ideas and the knowledge of the public opinion (McAfee, 2009).

Along the same line, Mackeviciute y Iacubiţchi (2010) suggest that Enterprise has a direct impact to key aspects such as communication, collaboration, cooperation and innovation activities. Likewise, diverse authors argue for the benefits of Web 2.0 in all types of business (Benkler, 2006; Bonsón, Escobar y Flores, 2008; Constanzo, 2009; Hwang, Altman, y Kim, 2009; IDC, 2008; Kupp y Anderson, 2007). Due to the enormous use of the Web 2.0 tools, the formulation of metrics to determine the impact of such tools and level of use has been initiated (Herget and Mader, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Identity: Generically, a virtual representation enabling the user to interact in cyberspace, to project a personality and to describe a personal or professional trajectory, in order to learn and share information, such as news, Websites, hobbies, opinions, etc. The host of technological platforms now available on the Internet are the best showcase for companies to identify the main features of their clients, who meet in virtual communities, with well defined profiles, where they interact and freely express their tastes, experiences and problems. Participating, getting closer and talking to the customer: these are benefits made available by technology and which should be exploited. Nevertheless, companies should be aware that in these platforms where exchange and sharing take place, there are people, not brands or organizations, interacting and therefore a company’s digital identity must project a personality.

Web 2.0: Is a concept that refers to the social phenomenon arising from the development of diverse Internet applications. The term draws a distinction between the early days of the Web (where the user was basically a passive subject who received information or who published it, but without many possibilities existing to generate interaction) and the revolution that led to the rise of blogs, social networks and other tools. Web 2.0, therefore, consists of content-publishing platforms, the social networking services known as wikis, and photo, audio or video hosting sites. The essence of these tools is the ability they provide for users to interact or to provide additional content.

Social Communication Media: Are online platforms where content is created by users themselves using Web 2.0 technologies that facilitate the editing, publication and exchange of information. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, personality blogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, photos and videos. Examples of social media include Wikipedia (reference), Facebook (social networking), (personal music), YouTube (video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing) and Twitter (microblogging and social networks). Many of these services may in turn be integrated into social networks as aggregation platforms.

Transparency: This term refers, in the business field, to opening up the information flow within organisations. Thus, information becomes accessible to everyone, enabling review, analysis and the detection of possible anomalies. Transparency includes issues such as the publication of audited accounts and budgets, financial statistics, trade and currency information, among others. Ultimately, transparency is the transmission of certainty and confidence, with information being freely available without obstacles or burdensome requirements, in a form that is understandable, which includes all relevant elements, which can be relied upon and which is of high quality.

E-participation: Encompasses the processes that facilitate and enhance direct involvement in decision-making and in the generation of alternatives through the use of participatory channels that use ICTs, such as Web 2.0 and social networks.

Corporate Dialogue: This concept is based on the idea that companies may eliminate the barriers posed by paper-based formats, through the use of Web 2.0 capabilities. Thus, they can provide information that is much more detailed and useful to stakeholders, and also, through the use of new platforms, enable the effective participation of external users.

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