Something quite cool happened at the recent Almedalen conference – a big gathering of political, social and business movers and shakers here in Sweden.
A small company called Great Beyond wanted to show their skills (PR, social, etc) and decided they’d help out at Almedalen using Saabs as their vehicle of choice. What unfolded was a wonderful service for busy attendees, a useful promotion for Saab and a useful vehicle for Great Beyond to show their services.
The basics of their service was to make available the fleet of three Saab 9-5 Aeros they’d borrowed, to be used as free taxis at Almedalen. People could contact the Great Beyond crew via Twitter on their smartphone and request a ride. The crew looked up the person’s GPS co-ordinates, located the estranged client and delivered them to where they needed to be.
Almedalen is centered around Visby, on the island of Gotland, off Sweden’s east coast. Being an island, the number of regular taxis is limited and well, let’s just say Almedalen’s a very busy time of year.
How busy? Here are a few of their stories.
The Saabs drove when all others were unavailable
When Anna-Sara and her colleagues from the Swedish Exhibition Centre in Gothenburg, landed at the airport outside of Visby, the focus was on quickly go into Almedalen. But first they had to go to their rental house a bit outside the town and leave the luggage. Imagine their surprise when the taxi queue was empty of cabs – but full of irritated people.
After an hour, people start walking to town from the airport. Along the highway you could see hordes of people dragging a whole week’s luggage along behind them. Meanwhile, a friend of Anna-Sara tweeted about the fact that they could ‘fly’ all the way to Almedalen (in a Saab).
– Is it really true, can you at Saab bring us all the the way?
– Just tell us your coordinators, and we will spot you on the GPS!
By iPhone and Twitter, it was easy to come into contact with Saab. The rest of the week, Saab team get many greetings from Anna-Sara with colleagues.
She has previously worked at one of Norrland’s largest newspapers, but is now freelance and is a frequent lecturer on the topic of social media. A trendspotter in the field, many are listening to her words.
Just one hour after the first journalist had a ride with Saab, more journalists started to contact us. For example Sara Gunnarsdotter or @Saragugu as she is called on Twitter.
The G-man and the Saab
All countries have men of influence behind the scenes. Sweden is no exception. Kristoffer Tamsons was (Prime Minister) Fredrik Reinfeldt’s personal speechwriter during the 2006 election and is now the Prime Minister’s head of planning.
– Is that you, Kristoffer? (One of the Saab team knows Kristoffer after meeting him several times.) Are you waiting for a taxi to Visby?
– That’s right, this is a taxi disaster…
– We have a seat over in a brand new Saab Aero XWD.
– Is it true, do you run the taxi? Saab? Do you really mean that you run that nice car? Of course I want to go with you!
During the trip to the Almedalen an informed conversation about Saab follow. The journey ends with best wishes for Saab.
The (friendly) competition
Saab carried more than hundred politicians, leaders and journalists during Almedalen. Many trips were to and from the airport. We in the Saab team had to think a number of times about how all the taxi drivers would respond to our presence? Proud but a little nervous, we started to drive.
When we rolled in at the airport – three Saab 9-5 Aero XWD’s in convoy – it was a powerful feeling to see everyone’s eyes on the cars.
Our concerns over taxi drivers’ reaction? There were more passengers than there were cars on the island. After a few rides, we were even friends with some of the taxi drivers.
– Is that the new Saab?
– Brand new!
– Great. I love Saabs, I was driving one before but now I drive minivan. Oh, how boring my new life is in comparison.
– What do you like most about Saab?
– The feeling! What does it cost?!
These contacts – and all the other rides – resulted in Saab wining a prize. Saab won ”this year’s excitement at Almedalen”. Read more here.
What have we learned from this?
That a good story spreads itself!
I should stress here that the crew from Great Beyond took it upon themselves to do this. It wasn’t a request from Saab. They came up with the plan, contacted a dealer, secured the cars and provided all the services. We only found out about it as it was just beginning.
These stories and the notation they received for their services to attendees at Almedalen is a credit to them and we’re thankful that they chose to spread the news about Saab at this all-important Swedish event.