Froogll’s In-Flight Deals: It Really Knows Where You Are Going

The credit card-based, in-flight beverage, food, entertainment and Internet era has a new twist: “Froogll” deals that can be bought online and targeted to users based on destination (i.e., Las Vegas), gender and observable family status (i.e., single/married/family).

Froogll is the brainchild of Jetera, a targeted, in-flight ad provider based in Danbury, Connecticut. The site, which is spelled funny to avoid a collision with Google’s defunct Froogle service, is a spinoff of Jetera’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) marketing concepts, but is being made generally available to on-the-ground customers as well as in-flight customers — a necessity, as the in-flight options may take several years to mature.

It joins other airport and plan-based concepts flirting with local commerce, including airport Wi-Fi (JiWire), flight delay forecasts (NextJump’s FlightCaster) and flight status board (HelloMetro’s HelloFlight).

Company CEO Jeff McChesney tells us that the in-flight portion provides great targeting, and airlines’ increasingly sophisticated point of sales systems provide a printed receipts for any purchase (i.e., pillow, Heinekin, movie, Deal for Penn & Teller show). In addition to voucher information, the receipts can also feature pre-print ads (two on the back) and targeted ads – three on the front). Actual vouchers are not part of the service at this point.

There are other limitations to in-flight services, he adds. At this point, only Air Canada is currently set up with an in-flight system at every seat. Passengers on other airlines can use Internet and local video-based ordering. (although it is a little early. In my experience, only six or seven passengers per flight are using in flight Internet, even on tech-heavy routes). Another issue: walled gardens. One vendor, AirTel, blocks outside access.

In the meantime, the six-person, angel-funded service is ramping up in the New York metro area, with telemarketers and a couple of premise sales. The New York offers are being test-marketed to a list of 14,000 subscribers, although the site has potential access to a list of 225,000 people in the area. The site also features loyalty rewards, and 30-day windows for sales – an experimental feature that McChesney says has been embraced by merchants.

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