The Relationship Between Innovation and Technology: Why Airlines Must Adapt

Today, airlines are expected to go beyond the basic needs of passengers. From desired arrival times and reasonable fares to mobile technology and innovation, it has never been more important for airlines to understand the impact of mobile. The Spanish low-fare airline, Vueling, has always put innovation first by understanding the relationship it has with technology.

Today, airlines are expected to go beyond the basic needs of passengers. From desired arrival times and reasonable fares to mobile technology and innovation, it has never been more important for airlines to understand the impact of mobile.

The Spanish low-fare airline, Vueling, has always put innovation first by understanding the relationship it has with technology.

Fernando Estrada, chief strategy officer at Vueling, part of the International Consolidated Airlines Group alongside British Airways, Iberia, Iberia Express and shortly, Aer Lingus, explained how mobile features have a positive and constructive effect on customers’ travel experience during an interview this week with Routesonline.

Fernando Estrada

“Being innovative is essential for a number of reasons and one of them is to better serve our customers and to meet the demands of smartphone users instantly and easily.

“Innovation has always been part of Vueling’s DNA and we are constantly working on designing improvements to meet the needs of our customers. In 2009 Vueling became the first airline to boast an intuitive app for booking and paying for flights via a smartphone device.

“Since then, we have added many handy features to smooth customers’ travel experience, with the app receiving more than two million downloads to date, with a usage of 1.5 million every month.

Fernando Estrada, chief strategy officer, Vueling, will be among the panellists in a session titled: 'The Airline Challenges & Growth Concerns' at this year's World Routes Strategy Summit in Durban, South Africa.  The session, which includes senior officials from Air China, Etihad Airways, fastjet, South African Airways, Southwest Airlines and Boeing, takes place at 12:20 on Sunday 20th September, 2015. Click here for full details.

With an incessant growth of customers year on year, airlines must look at altering their business structure and goals to meet the current market.

“At Vueling we have a dedicated team for mobile technology. For the first time Vueling’s IT budget will now see much more spent on our mobile application than the web platform.” Estrada explained.

“We aim to develop our app into a tool that will cover the whole journey, including travel to and from the airport, and the airport experience itself.

“Of course we do aim to better serve our customers but at the same time to sell more. Take Vueling’s geo-location technology for the iWatch app as an example, this will enable us to locate the passenger within the airport and create personalised proposals that the passenger may need at any time during the trip.”

Estrada suggests that understanding who your customers are and the requirements they need are vital for success.

The airline is constantly looking at developing new tools and functions for its customers. In January 2015, the airline introduced a ‘bring your flight forward’ function to its mobile app, which has received great feedback.

“It is so well received by our business passengers, who equal 39 per cent of Vueling’s total passengers who have access to this easy and flexible mobile app function through a single click.

“We are constantly thinking and designing new innovative products and services, with many more different functions on the list.”

Airlines, such as Vueling, consider World Routes an event which is not to be missed.

“It is a perfect opportunity to meet and talk with all our current airport partners and new airports to further develop our network, and at the same time to share and discuss all the global industry trends at the Strategy Summit.”

This year's World Routes will be taking place in Durban, South Africa between September 19 - 22, 2015.  Find out all the event essentials here.

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