The Sydney based full service carrier Qantas is an airline I have quite a bit of time for, partly because in the past I worked very closely with their online efforts. Recently I had heard some whispers about how they were moving forward in the right direction with mobile, but I never discuss or comment on stuff like that until I see the airline itself is happy to publicize the fact. Today The Australian newspaper has a profile on Stephen Wilson who runs technology at Qantas, and he makes a few interesting points:

“We’re looking at mobility as a key driver. It offers us significant opportunities to engage with our customers and add new, valued services,” Wilson says. “We believe mobility solutions will enable us to improve the experience for customers end-to-end.” Wilson rates the consumerisation of IT and adoption of mobile devices as reasons for the push in the mobility space. Plans are afoot to enhance its online and mobile check-in channels so the pre-airport and airport experience can be aligned, he says. More than 25 per cent of domestic check-ins are done online. Qantas is looking at “multiple areas” to integrate mobile devices and mobility into internal and external environments.

My other friends down under (Virgin Blue) have been having no end of bad luck recently, with another recent outage. Whether it is Navitaire going down, power supply problems, or flood impacted data centers, I remain positive that the guys in Brisbane will turn their luck around soon.

On an unrelated note, I saw this interesting story in the LA Times.

Almost 20% of travelers spent five or more hours shopping and booking flights, according to a survey by a division of technology giant IBM Corp. of more than 2,000 business and leisure travelers. Business travelers were generally more efficient in booking a flight than leisure travelers, but almost 40% of business travelers spent at least two hours shopping and booking.

I’m not sure the takeaway there is that booking tools for business travelers are better than B2C (actually, I’m positive this is not the case), but the real reason is more likely to be that it is easier to find a suitable fare when you are spending somebody elses money!

Marketing VOX has a good roundup of some of the companies vaguely similar to Sojern (although they don’t actually mention Sojern) in a piece on the partnership between Ink and Ryanair that will see ads printed on boarding passes.

Ryanair, however, is tweaking the model to concentrate on retailers at the airport of departure – as opposed to the destination

With much of the world apparently moving more to a Groupon-like model, maybe the Ryanair idea of concentrating more on airport offers than on destination content might result in a better take-up (and definitely better trackability) of the offers.  In the article, the CEO of Ink (company behind the solution for Ryanair) seems to be implying this, claiming that initial contracts are already being signed with advertisers priced at several times the rate for similar web ads.

Finally, if you are interested in the travel inspiration space, USA Today has a piece inspired by the recent move by Southwest and their new GetAway Finder. It covers the pros and cons of companies like Wanderfly, Goby, Tripbase and Cheapflights who are trying to influence where you take your next vacation, and thereby get a cut of the revenue along the way. I’m still hearing a number of airlines say they want to get more deeply involved in this space, but it seems most are preferring to stay on the sidelines or only dip a toe very gently into the water for now. The potential is big, but unlike mobile which lends itself (or at least has up to now) to a more incremental approach, travel inspiration by an airline really needs to have a clearly defined strategic plan upfront as this is not an area where you will just stumble upon the right answer.

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