United Airlines’ relentless focus on satisfying customers on mobile has positioned it to leverage data to stand out in an industry struggling to catch up with the hotel sector and traditional retailers after years of severe cost-cutting, Mobile Marketer's analysis shows.
The Chicago-based carrier is set to tap a huge cache of information about customers to meet demand for a simplified, faster travel experience. United’s achievements on mobile point to the need for airlines to use mobile to provide a bridge for the passenger between every aspect of air travel today, from searching and booking to inflight entertainment and baggage tracking.
“As an airline, we’re rich in data,” said Jennifer Dohm, a United spokeswoman. “Data about our customers, about trends, about airports, flight times, operations and more.
“The biggest opportunity for us is to continue to cross-reference that data for better customer experience,” she said.
United has the ability to send out push notifications to customers during weather-related travel disruptions or cancellations and include links to options for customers on mobile to re-book or modify their travel plans.
“We’re working to synchronize even more of our data and systems to better anticipate needs and disruptions for customers and elevate their digital travel experience,” Ms. Dohm said.
Scanning passports via mobile.
It is only logical that every investment United and other airlines make will be in mobile given the speed at which search on phones and tablets is overtaking desktops. More than half of passengers now book and pay for travel on mobile devices and tablets.
United has led the industry with self-service and mobile technology solutions for years. In 1995, it was the first United States airline to deploy self-check-in kiosks in its airport terminals. Twelve years later, it was first to introduce mobile boarding passes, and to offer mobile boarding at all domestic airports it serves.
Last year, it became the first U.S. carrier to let customers use mobile to scan passports for international flight check-in.
United’s biggest success so far may be its all-new mobile app launched in 2013.
The redesigned app, which has attracted more than 20 million users, allows users to get the most important flight and check-in information from a glance at a mobile phone.
“While the sheer number of app users is impressive – more than 20 million currently – and that number is quickly growing by the day, what is greater proof of success is the exponential growth of the number of sessions and times a user accesses the app each day,” Ms. Dohm said. “This tells us that once a customer uses the app, they’re recognizing the value and using it more and more to enhance their journey from beginning to end.”
By studying how people use phones and apps, United was able to make its app more relevant and helpful to users, in turn accelerating the public’s expectation for faster, more convenient service.