Mobile opportunities in the travel industry are flying high and airlines need to take these 3 actions

By Wyatt Urmey

As two significant trends merge, business opportunities in the travel industry — specifically for airlines — are plentiful.

First, global air travel has increased eight fold in four decades. And, by 2035, the International Air Transport Association expects 7.2 billion passengers to travel by air, almost double the 3.8 million passengers who traveled in 2016. For comparison, 7.2 billion is about the entire population of the earth today traveling by plane in one year – that is a massive increase in global travel.

Second, passengers are bringing more mobile devices with them when they travel. These devices are used more frequently by travelers to make their reservations and purchases. A survey published in 2016 found that 85 percent of travelers book their plans on mobile devices.

Not to overstate the obvious, but the travel industry needs to focus on their mobile strategy and their travelers’ digital experiences.

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Here are three things airlines can do to take advantage of these trends:

Realize that passengers are empowered

Passengers are empowered to find new choices and destinations fast. They are in search of unique and captivating experiences. One of the many reasons for this is so travelers can share photos of their expeditions on social media from their smartphones. Travelers are expressing themselves in their adventures, seeking more authenticity and self-actualization through travel, and heading more often off the beaten track to capture these original experiences.

Treat mobile as a tool with two sharp edges

One of the many benefits of mobile technology is that it’s giving passengers the ability to share their travel experiences: for better and sometimes for worse. Expectations are high. Angry passengers are motivated and aren’t shy to share their experiences when they’ve been spurned. On the other hand, airline crew members can use mobile tech to be able to support passengers and their increasing expectations quickly and efficiently, in the moment and before problems cascade in impact. For example, being able to rebook a passenger while in flight to the best connection helps passengers have an enjoyable experience and it prevents a backlog of activity forming the moment a flight lands, putting pressure on ground crew and passengers.

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Empower crews and employees to improve efficiency with mobile

This is an arms race of crew and passengers for who has more in-the-moment knowledge. Many fliers have already noticed that the airline’s app often has gate and time changes faster than they display at some airports, and faster than many crew members have that same information – sometimes making crew members seem out-of-the-know. This impacts the overall experience for travelers and top airlines have taken notice.

Having the best information in the moment also helps employees solve problems faster, and therefore lowers frustration and increases job satisfaction. The top 2017 regional airlines of Asia, Europe, North Europe and North America have implemented MobileFirst for iOS solutions for their crews.

The plane doesn’t stop here, though. Opportunities in the travel industry are continuously expanding with the aim of increasing efficiency, improving business results and enhancing the passenger experience above and below 30,000 feet.