In an earlier blog post, we explored the reasons why travel businesses should go mobile. Now, we will discuss why airlines, specifically, need mobile solutions for passengers.
Any airline without a mobile solution is likely to be surpassed as the competition soars to new heights. According to a recent study, more than one in three visits to travel websites are now from mobile devices. It makes sense that airlines should be striving to provide the best and most efficient mobile experience for their users.
Before we go any further, let’s clarify a few things: Mobile apps are NOT mobile sites. Even though both are used on smartphones and tablets, there is a difference:
A mobile app is a program downloaded and installed onto a user's mobile device, whereas a mobile site is simply a website with its format adapted for browsing on a tablet and smartphone. It is accessed through an internet browser by entering the URL in the navigation bar. There is no download needed but an internet connection is required to gain access.
A mobile app is first downloaded from an online store such as the App Store or Google Play and is then saved on the smartphone or the tablet.
They each serve a different purpose:
A mobile app remains on the user's smartphone, and is ideal for frequent, immediate and repeated use – bookings, mobile check-in, seat allocations and upgrades, payments, destination weather updates, etc. It can be launched with the tap of a finger and increases customer loyalty.
An airline mobile website however, is designed for mobile communication with the purpose of informing a large audience over a longer time frame, or to publicize specific events and promotions.
Sales through mobile apps for airlines will likely increase from 18% to 33% this year, according to a study by HP. Top international airlines like Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Turkish Airlines, and other carriers have already invested in mobile capabilities to serve passengers. A ForSee survey in 2013 found “customers using mobile apps are more satisfied with their mobile travel”. The best mobile airline apps from Southwest, American and Delta have propelled these airlines to the top of the customer satisfaction list.
Here are a few more reasons why your airline should get a mobile app:
Passengers want every detail of their journey available right at their fingertips. They want full access to information without having to call, e-mail, or wait for a travel agent to attend to their needs. Having a mobile app means your customers can check in, select seats, and get their mobile boarding passes at their own convenience, and without the need to log in and enter personal details in order to complete the actions they want to take, like they would have to on a mobile site.
Apps have larger buttons, cleaner design, and are more user-friendly than most airline mobile sites. They give people information faster at a glance instead of them needing to search within the mobile site. After the initial setup, passengers don’t need to log in, remember passwords, enter personal details, and so on every time they want to use the app, saving the traveler time and energy – thus, improving the customer experience and increasing their loyalty.
THE ADVANTAGE OF SELF-SERVICE
Booking flights and checking in are much easier and quicker through a mobile app as opposed to through a website or mobile site. As we mentioned before, all of a traveler’s personal details are already stored within the app, so a flight can be booked with 2-3 taps of the finger. The app should be integrated with a mobile payment solution that is safe, secure, and can accept a wide variety of payment methods to cater to on-the-go customer.
GIVE QUICKER ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Passengers appreciate having a fast and easy way to find solutions and get answers to their questions. Through an airline’s mobile app, they can easily access details about their flights, reward points, travel deals, or other pertinent information without searching through the mobile site.
KEEPING PASSENGERS UPDATED
Flight changes can happen in an instant. In major airports such as London Heathrow Airport, Dubai International Airport, or JFK, announcements made over the speakers are often difficult to hear and understand. Passengers can easily miss updates… and their flights.
With an app, passengers can simply check flight updates at any time they wish. They can even set it up so that they receive alerts regarding flight changes or boarding details, relieving the stress of the often frustrating airport experience.
UPSELLING IS EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE
It is much easier to sell extra services, such as car rental, seat upgrades, and hotel reservations, through an app rather than through a mobile site. According to FlightView, a growing 29% of travelers have purchased a seat upgrade or add-on through mobile. More revenue, higher customer satisfaction, and increased loyalty are advantages benefitting many airlines offering mobile apps. A mobile app also makes it possible to enable push notifications, so airlines can actively show passengers any special offers or personalized deals based on their behavior or settings. Airlines can even customize the deals offered in push notifications based on the passenger’s location, thanks to mobile GPS services.
Being able to use an app gives passengers a more enjoyable and less stressful travel experience. This means they are more likely to use your airline in the future. In today’s highly competitive and connected world, it is vital for the airline industry to keep up with – and anticipate – the passenger’s needs.
By offering passengers the use of a mobile app, airline carriers can expect their customer loyalty rate to rise to new heights along with the increased revenues it brings.