While airline websites remain a key point of contact for many consumers, the industry is aggressively developing better tools to serve one of the fastest growing revenue platforms for the sector — mobile technology. Look for carriers to boost investment in airline features and services available on mobile devices in the coming years.
This month, the Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA) released its 2012 Airline IT Trends Survey revealing the IT investment priorities for airlines around the world, as well as forward looking passenger trends. Topping the list is the development of passenger services via mobile devices with almost 60 percent of airlines making major investments in the next three years.
"This is the second year that mobile services for passengers tops the list of investment programs and it is the adoption of mobile apps across sales, customer services and passenger processing that truly shows that airlines are committed to transformation," says Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA, in a press release.
While many airlines already offer mobile functionality, nine out of 10 airlines surveyed are planning to sell tickets through mobile phones by 2015. Smartphone apps are forecast to be the second largest channel after an airline's website for direct sales of tickets and other add-on services, such as bag fees and seat upgrades.
Social media is also gaining steam with passengers and airlines seem to agree. Of those surveyed in the SITA survey, 57 percent said social media will play a more significant role in the "communication and marketing of service offers," though actual sales through social media aren't expected to dominate.
I still book my tickets directly on an airline's website, though I do use their mobile apps to check-in and get updated flight status alerts. I also frequently use Twitter to reach out to airlines with general questions about service and frequent flier program updates. The focus airlines expect to place on developing more tools and better service on mobile platforms pleases me, as I find using mobile technology more convenient and efficient than calling in, for example.
How do you book your tickets? Are you happy airlines plan to spend the majority of their IT investment dollars in mobile technology?