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Turkish Airlines’ app launch points to airlines’ grasp of mobile tactics

The Monitise-developed apps will let users view offers from the airline, purchase tickets, check in, store mobile boarding passes to a passbook, choose seats, order meals, access their flight status and track baggage. The launch points to how airlines are striving to catch up with other industries as travelers’ dependence on mobile devices deepens.

“Travel is an inherently mobile sector, and we are aware that many of Turkish Airlines’ passengers are often on the go as they search for flights, check in, redeem their Miles and Smiles rewards, and more,” said Peri Kadaster, strategy and marketing director for Monitise in Turkey.

“We wanted to deliver a truly seamless experience that puts the full arsenal of Turkish Airlines in the palm of your hand, anywhere and anytime.”

Mobile ticketing
The apps, available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and HTML5, also sync with other smartphone functions to allow users to purchase tickets for their contacts and add flights to their calendar.

The apps integrate Turkish Airlines’ loyalty program, Miles and Smiles, showing users their miles and available benefits. Animations, gesture controls and destination themes bring to life journeys on maps and destination weather conditions.

Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s national carrier, flies more than 39 million passengers per year to nearly 100 countries.

The launch reflects airlines’ growing understanding of the need to address customers’ ever-changing needs in the quickest way possible by providing a faster, user-friendly, seamless mobile experience.

Airlines have lagged other industries in finding ways to let consumers use mobile in a way that is most convenient and comfortable for them.

Last month, and Egencia, Expedia’s business travel brand, released results from a global study on mobile-device-related behavior indicating consumers’ deep dependence on mobile devices while traveling.

Expedia discovered that 94 percent of individuals worldwide bring at least one mobile device with them on personal vacations, with 97 percent doing the same for business trips.

“Travelers are pushed for time, and they don’t want to jump through hurdles or take extra steps to get travel-specific information,” said Vanessa Horwell, founder and chief visibility officer of Miami-based ThinkInk. “They want information that’s available at a glance or at a click, without navigating outside the app, to a separate Web site or to a separate app that doesn’t provide information in real time.

“Anything that can reduce the amount of time spent looking for information – especially for business travelers – is extremely important, as is the ability of passengers to handle all of their travel planning within the airline’s app,” she said.

“Travelers don’t want to use one app to book a flight and then have to swipe elsewhere to pay for the ticket or download a boarding pass. They want everything on their phone immediately and seamlessly.”

The issue with many mobile experiences – whether apps or mobile Web sites – is they fail to provide utility within the travel context, according to Ms. Horwell.

Deciding quickly
Travelers behave differently than online shoppers who are sitting on a couch, and differently than moms booking after-school entertainment for their children. They have limited time, and they need to make decisions quickly, based on information that’s provided in real time or near-real time for those decisions.

The opportunity for airlines to enhance brand loyalty is huge when consumer interactions can be managed within a single environment.

“As a brand, you can benefit from a complete profile of each passenger – where they like to book, what their booking window is, what their preferences are before flight, in the lounge and post-flight — and then make decisions about what offers to serve based on that rich profile data,” Ms. Horwell said.

“For the traveler, having the ability to access to all of the information about your trip in one place is convenient, and it’s what passengers increasingly expect from their preferred airlines and on their mobile devices.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.