The increasing sophistication and availability of information technology gives travelers an unprecedented ability to interface with their airlines to control nearly every aspect of their air travel experience. Carriers are rushing to use that connectivity to garner market share and generate passenger loyalty.
From the time they arrive at the airport until they reach their destinations, air travel represents an interruption in the life of the traveler. People are taken away from work, family, friends, familiar food, and comfortable surroundings. How can airlines make travel, particularly business travel, as convenient and as seamless as possible?
LANDING IN A NEW SECTOR
“We’re focusing our services on being hospitable, using a hotel-centric model,” says Mike Landers, Managing Director of United Clubs for United Airlines, “specifically in the lounges.” Landers poses a series of questions that challenge airlines to address the needs of the business traveler: Can the passenger eat in the lounge so he can sleep on the plane? Does the customer have what she needs to be comfortable in the lounge? Is there adequate assistance on the ground? What is the airline doing in the air to complete the journey upon arrival? Is the airline taking customers’ feedback to improve or change their experience?
“Folks want to get from point A to point B quickly, safely and efficiently. We want to simplify the experience and give as much control as possible to the business traveler from the start of the booking path to completion of that travel experience.”
These questions and more will help to shape customer experience as airlines become part of the hospitality sector. In lounges, Landers notes, the hospitality focus starts with the welcome and the greeting and goes through to individual restrooms and food and beverage service. The main theme is giving the customer the opportunity to control his or her own experience, whether the need is for “rest and recharge” or productivity. The lounge space will contain amenities for both, all within one space.