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United Airlines relaunches site for personalized, touch-friendly booking across screensBy
United Airlines has revealed the beta version of its new United.com site, which is touch-friendly across all platforms and provides customized travel history widgets, suggesting that filtering options for streamlined booking and a unified experience are functions sought by travelers.
The new site provides users with a sleeker and more modern interface, in addition to personalized features such as widgets customized to Mileage Plus members’ past travel histories. The enhanced sorting functions are also meant to drive sales of more flights as mobile booking applications begin to crowd the competitive hospitality sector.
“Our customers were absolutely the inspiration to transform United.com from the ground up,” said Jennifer Dohm, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, Chicago, IL. “We’re very in-tune with the needs of the modern traveler.
“Technology is not just a large part of the travel experience; it drives the travel experience. We are very much trying to lead that experience from a digital perspective.”
The site enables consumers to tap the enhanced filtering features which ensure that every user finds the flight best-suited to their needs, whether that includes Wi-Fi availability, type of aircraft, in-seat power or preferred connection cities.
Customers can sort and filter through a plethora of preferences on mobile and expand their search results.
Users may also input their estimated departure dates and locations into the site to view quickly calculated fare and date combinations, which will automatically be displayed for a 15-day window. Fares are also shown in increments to offer customers additional flexibility when purchasing flights.
These types of booking options may help set United Airlines apart from the myriad of booking apps currently permeating the industry.
“The Web site is a part of our greater digital strategy for all of our channels: our Web site, our app, our kiosks,” Ms. Dohm said. “Our mobile app will start to incorporate these booking features.
“The mobile app has been a powerful tool for travelers.”
Users of the mobile site can also view upgrade availability to see if their seats are eligible for business or first class, a feature that the airline expects will help consumers in making informed purchase decisions. They may leverage the site to redeem any Mileage Plus upgrades before booking any participating flights.
The customizable widgets are also a draw-inducing feature, as they may be personalized to Mileage Plus members’ travel histories and easily allow users to view upcoming trips and saved alerts or searches.
Consumers may also opt to choose travel or aviation-themed backgrounds for their homepages.
Additionally, the site is touch-friendly for customers who own smartphones, tablet devices or touch-enabled desktops. As individuals become increasingly more time-strapped, offering streamlined booking options is a tactic of utmost importance for any travel marketer.
The site is still in beta mode, and may be accessed by visiting beta.united.com. More updates will be rolled out through the coming months.
United Airlines is also bumping up its mobile strategy with the introduction of a personal device entertainment service on planes via its updated mobile application and enabling in-store purchases with the new MileagePlus X loyalty app (see story).
“This site is device-agnostic,” Ms. Dohm said. “If you’re on a phone, we encourage you to use your app, but if you’re using United.com, it will have that slick, touch-friendly experience.
“I think the other theme you’ll see from United.com and from the digital experience we try to offer is the idea of personalization, and giving you the information you need that is specific to what you want.”
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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