Airlines, hotels, tour operators and rail providers, among other segments of the travel industry, are focusing on having the right presence across multiple channels. More importantly, they are looking at how they can deliver a consistent and seamless user experience across their websites and mobile apps so that travellers can view, search and book their trips seamlessly, even when those steps are performed on various devices. Clearly a responsive designed, mobile optimized web site is the pre-requisite mechanism to achieve this consistency. Further, given the majority of search queries now originate via mobile, the likes of Google will penalize brands which do not have this in place.
Airlines own a vital component of the trip, making them especially well positioned to take charge of the traveller’s mobile experience. Low cost carriers like Ryanair were amongst the first airlines to embrace apps which offer their customers the perfect environment for their self-servicing needs, covering tasks from built-in boarding passes, seat, luggage, priority, fast lane, food purchases and live flight updates. We’re seeing a strong increase in the use of omni-channel marketing, whereby airlines and OTAs are recognizing shopping cart abandonment and then retargeting consumers where they spend the majority of the time during their day: on their mobile device.
But pre-trip management is just the tip of the iceberg. Some airlines are starting to experiment with mobile for the in-trip experience. On-board flight entertainment screens are being replaced with intraplane wi-fi and electrical charging so smartphones and tablets can entertain passengers in-flight.
As we move towards an “immediate” world, where consumers’ expect information and answers within seconds, fully tailored customer service chatbots will come further into play, fuelled by the millions of WhatsApp, Line and WeChat users worldwide. Just as Twitter became the “go to” for social outcry when consumers were disrupted in travel (including even a plea for help from one passenger who found himself without toilet paper on a train), consumers will expect travel brands to remedy their concerns instantly, and chatbots will be perfectly suited to assist in this regard.
Whether you work for an airline or a travel company looking to fine-tune your customer’s experience, here are four things to consider in your mobile strategy:
- Go for the swipe, pinch and tap: Historically, touchpoints have been across desktop and laptop, but users are nowadays spending the majority of their time on mobile, and this trend will only increase. Providing technology that is highly responsive and actually tailored for each of these touchpoints will be essential to keep travellers engaged. It’s all about the swipe, pinch, and tap – the click is dead.
- Location, location, location: Take advantage of the mobile device knowing your location, and pre-fill in certain fields like the nearest airport, or provide information to the consumer in real-time, guiding them to the business lounge closest to their departing gate.
- Go further together: Collaborate with complementing travel providers to give the travellers an end-to-end seamless experience every step of the trip. Several hotels and airlines are now integrating taxi/transfer bookings in their apps.
- Purchase on the go: From check-in, to boarding pass, to meal order, to extra bags purchase to lounge pass: mobile apps can help augment the initial purchase of the ticket and increase the overall value of the customer. Especially on mobile where all purchases are one finger tap away, capturing this incremental, ancillary revenue is a key initiative for many travel providers
In a customer-centric world, mobile will offer a natural platform to remain in frequent contact and boost loyalty – right from the minute they take an Uber to the airport to when they choose their in-flight menu, upgrade class or even look for a last-minute tour guide in a foreign destination: the possibilities are immense.