Thursday, March 27, 2008

What will it take to get travellers to listen to safety advice?

A pretty flight attendant with Angelina Jolie lips? An animated cartoon?

Airlines are getting more creative when it comes to getting people to pay attention to those pre-flight safety demonstrations. Thanks to YouTube, the latest safety videos have been making the rounds in the media and travel blogs.

What's all the fuss about? See for yourself. Here's Delta's new video featuring the widely-discussed "Deltalina" (flight attendant Katherine Lee):

Compare that with Virgin America's animated version:

Essentially, it's a question of presentation. My training in rhetoric and information design is prodding me to analyze the videos, but I won't venture such a tangent because the content and presentation have already been widely discussed. Whether or not these in-flight videos do their job effectively on the plane depends on the audience.

But off the plane... With all the media attention, I'd wager that millions of people who aren't currently travelling have watched the video because they read about it or heard about it somewhere. YouTube and blogs make the information easy to disseminate (in fact, it took me less than a minute to embed the videos into this entry). If airlines are looking to educate people, then this was an effective strategy. (Not to mention good advertising, but I digress).

It makes me wonder what other safety information might benefit from a more creative approach. Most of the travel safety advice I digest in a day is text on a web page. That being said, I've noticed that advice is slowly going multi-media. For example, the CDC now offers podcasts on various topics. Travel safety training courses are also becoming more common for business travellers and students, but I'm wondering when the traveling public will catch on, or if this training will eventually go online.

I'm curious... Could videos and podcasts about travel safety engage a wider audience? If "Deltalina" told people how to avoid common safety and security issues, would they be more likely to listen? Or do people still prefer a webpage or report that can be mined for information and printed and carried along?

Your thoughts?

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