Jaime Bautista, President and Chief Operating Officer at Philippine Airlines was quoted in an IATA interview as saying:

Self-service technology is great. It reduces costs and it puts control of the journey into the passenger’s hands. They feel more empowered. It saves them money and it saves them time.

PAL has either started, or plans to start, all of the self-service technologies available. Where we have started, we have seen an ever-increasing number of users, which shows that passengers want to use these channels.

So I don’t think it has any negative connotations for brand or customer service at all. Reliability is vital, however. Passengers must have confidence in the technology. As long as you get that right, it will promote both the brand and a positive passenger experience.

The mildly interesting thing here is that people still feel the need to claim that self service is not having a negative effect on the brand. A lot of self service options actually have a positive impact on the brand, especially when it is servicing technology on the website that allows passengers to bypass the call centre. In fact, investing in more self service and automation of the PNR servicing function should be a high priority for any airline. Consistency is probably much more important than personal contact when it comes to setting and then managing customer expectations.

The other interesting thing I saw today relates to a company in the social geo-gaming space doing a big VC round of $20 million. Booyah is not focussed on travel specifically, but it looks to be going somewhat in the direction of what I was writing about in a Tnooz article recently on mobile opportunities in travel.