Ryanair’s Chief Executive Operator Michael O’Learly took to the company’s Twitter account in late October to conduct a Q&A “Twitter chat” with followers. Using the hashtag #GrillMOL, users could ask the CEO any questions they wanted, and he would candidly respond to as many as he could. His blunt and sometimes inappropriate responses received both negative and positive feedback which Entrepreneur.com summed up as “fascinating, inappropriate and helpful.”
From the outset, O’Learly’s personality shone through. One of his first responses was to a woman follower in which he stated, “Nice pic. Phwoaarr! MOL.”
While some people were entertained, others called him a “pig” and vowed to never fly Ryanair again.
At one point, an employee decided to chime in, but O’Learly put him in his place calling him a “slacker” and told him to “get back to work.”
Later, clearly trying to steer away from technical discussions, the airline CEO told a follower that his “boring techno babble question” was not allowed.
The chat eventually ended with O’Learly stating that he will only extend the time limit of the chat to allow “pretty girls as questions.”
Ryanair itself has faced much controversy and customers were clearly unafraid to speak their minds to O’Learly. Although this is the cheapest airline in Europe, it gets flack for charging customers for any and all services, to which many of the tweets alluded. A specific issue many people have is the $137 fee for not printing your own boarding pass, along with many other hefty charges.
On a positive side, O’Learly did cover some important business concerns during his chat. He announced to followers some upcoming changes for the company such as introducing mobile boarding passes, redesigning its website and retaining its open seating.
Although most of the tweets have since been deleted, the company tweeted that due to the “phenomenal success” of the first chat, they were holding another one the next day. While the second chat was a bit calmer than the first, O’Learly’s not-so-professional side still shone through with a few inappropriate remarks seen below.
With the upcoming changes Ryanair is making, one can’t help but think that this could be a publicity stunt. What are your thoughts? Did these Twitter chats do more harm than good? Does it change your opinion of the company? Would it stop you from ever using the airline? And finally, would you file this under “any publicity is good publicity?”