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Southwest Airlines targets last-minute bookings via mobile

Southwest Airlines is promoting its mobile booking service via an ad campaign that lets users plan trips while on the go.

The mobile ads connect to Southwest Airlines’ mobile site where users can also check-in and find flight statuses. The mobile ads are running inside the IMDb iPhone app.

“As an airline, we know our customers are constantly on the go, and the feedback we have received in focus groups lets us know how best to communicate with our customers,” said Chris Mainz, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, Dallas, TX.

“It is important for us to give access to our customers to book tickets on Southwest in a manner that suits them, and mobile is an important part of that strategy,” he said.

Southwest Airlines travels to 73 cities in 38 states and claims to operate more than 3,000 flights per day.

Mobile wings
The Southwest Airlines mobile ads read, “Low fares at” with a button that encourages users to tap and book a flight.

Once users tap on the mobile ad, they are taken to Southwest Airlines’ mobile site where they can access their account by using four main functions – book a flight, check-in, change their travel plans or cancel a trip.

However, in order to access travel plans, consumers must have their confirmation number, which might be difficult for on-the-go consumers to access. Instead, Southwest Airlines could have used an email address to track their plans.

The mobile site also aims to bolster sign-ups for Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards loyalty program. Users can learn about the program and enroll via their handsets. Current users can also access their rewards.

To apply for the program, users fill out their contact information in a three-step form, making it easy for mobile users to sign up.

Southwest Airlines’ is known for its low prices and by running mobile ads the company is able to extend its brand image to a channel where users are likely to be looking for last-minute deals.

Users can also make car reservations and contact Southwest Airlines directly with a click-to-call feature.

Laid-back travel
Mobile bookings give users an option to book travels on devices other than their desktops, which is a smart move for airline and travel companies.

Southwest is not the only airline using mobile advertising to bolster ticket sales.

Recently, American Airlines used mobile advertising to let users book and change travel plans (see story).

Both airlines are running mobile ad campaigns inside entertainment mobile apps where consumers are likely to be sitting on their couches while interacting with their devices.

The tie between television and mobile is becoming closer as more consumers watch content on multiple screens, showing the opportunities that advertisers have to include larger commerce transactions, such as airline bookings.

“Mobile is a part of our overall media advertising mix, and we use it to reach our customers on the go,” Mr. Mainz said.

“It complements our overall advertising strategy to communicate to our customers in a way that suits their daily lives,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York