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Extending Airline Touchpoints - Mobile Travel Trends 2018 Blog Series

With 2018 upon us what trends will shape the mobile travel landscape for the year ahead? We rounded up the opinions of 8 industry experts to bring you the key trends that will dominate mobile travel this year. In the first of our eight part blog series we take a look at our first trend, 'Extending Airline Touchpoints'. 

A recent study Travelport Digital conducted with travel industry professionals revealed that 53% of travel brands feel it is important to engage their passengers throughout the end-to-end customer journey. Therefore, with digital self service in travel on the rise, extending airline touchpoints and helping travelers manage their own experience, all within your app, is going to be big this year.

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There has been much talk in recent years about ‘Owning the Traveler’, whereby travel brands, and in particular airlines, can add value to the traveler experience over and above their core offering of getting passengers from A to B and keep their travelers engaged throughout the trip lifecycle.

To date this has mainly consisted of features and functionality such as providing flight status and traffic updates pre-travel, mobile airport mapping to guide travellers through the airport, extending the experience on-board through the use of mobile IFE functionality and enhancing the experience at destination by facilitating ground transportation bookings and destination activities. While these examples have kept airline brands front and centre and driven ancillary revenues, the experience is a bit fragmented and there is room for improvement.

So how does ‘Owning the Traveler’ step up a gear in 2018? The next stage is about seamlessly owning the traveler experience but also helping and enabling travelers to manage their own experience in the easiest way possible. This next level of development will most certainly be powered by data and enabled by data sharing among stakeholders within the travel industry.

United Airlines perhaps gave us a glimpse into how this data-driven future may look. At the 2017 New Generation of Airline Passenger Service Systems' conference United showcased some upcoming functionality built on shared travel data and designed to make the traveller journey as seamless as possible while keeping users within their app at all times.  The example given showed the passenger experience during a flight delay and how data sharing could be used to offer the passenger a late check-in for their hotel and a mobile room key alongside offering the option to choose different flights. And all of this from the airlines own mobile app.

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This looks and feels like the next big breakthrough. The benefits are widespread -  operational efficiencies for all providers in the traveler's itinerary; surprising and delighting the traveller; generating engagement and brand loyalty - why would a user ever uninstall an airline app?

This is just one example of how data sharing could be used to enhance the traveler experience. There has also been some similar but smaller-scale initiatives in 2017, such as SAS displaying regional train departures in Stockholm and Copenhagen directly in their app and  Southwest enabling passengers to not just not just book but also manage hotel reservations within their app.

The next big step will involve matching data from all segments in a traveler’s itinerary which will enable airlines and other travel players such as TMCs to not just efficiently handle disruption as in the example above, but to delight customers while at all times keeping them engaged with their brand’s mobile presence.

At a time when data privacy and the use of data is such a hot topic, particularly in Europe with the introduction of GDPR, it’s important to look at how the innovative use of data can impact both businesses and their customers for the good. There is an air of excitement about what can be achieved this year!

To learn more about the other key trends as well as findings from our research with senior airline and travel professionals and end travelers download our ‘Mobile Travel Trends 2018’ eBook today.

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Aisling White - Head of Marketing

Aisling has over 16 years’ experience in marketing, brand, and PR. Prior to joining Travelport Digital, Aisling worked at Hostelworld.com and Sage Software. At Travelport Digital Aisling manages the marketing strategy, content, communications, and digital platforms, to drive customer engagement.

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