Virgin Australia boss Rob Sharp says the airline plans to launch new mobile apps in 2018 as part of efforts to help passengers “fly smart”.
Sharp, the group executive for Virgin Australia airlines, told an Association of Corporate Travel Executives/CAPA – Centre for Aviation conference in Sydney there would be a new Virgin Australia app for Android and iOS unveiled early in the new year that would bring together its current separate flight specials and inflight entertainment apps.
“This app will build upon mobile functionality including management of flight bookings; airport and lounge maps; and integration of Virgin’s entertainment and flight specials apps,” Sharp said on Thursday in prepared remarks.
“In addition to this, Virgin is also releasing a Velocity Frequent Flyer app for iOS in the first quarter of 2018. This app will not only provide a platform for all members to check their account statements and membership tiers, but it will also provide personalised recommendations on how members can earn more Velocity Points and the best way to plan a trip using your Velocity Points.”
Currently, Virgin Australia offers three mobile apps. There is one for flight bookings and managing one’s Velocity Frequent Flyer account (available on iOS only).
Then there are is an app specifically for flight specials, and another for passengers to stream inflight entertainment to their own personal devices on board selected aircraft, Both available on Android and iOS.
Sharp, who in October was named the permanent head of Virgin Australia airlines, having held the post in an acting capacity since July following the sudden departure of John Thomas, said smartphones had become the “face of the digital century”.
“In today’s world of gadgets and gizmos, our customers not only have to live smart, but they have to fly smart as well,” Sharp said.
“What do I mean by fly smart? For starters, the vast majority of our customers are digital natives, meaning that if they can’t find information on a screen then they generally won’t bother finding it at all.
“And when we think of the adopters of this type of technology, we can’t go past the millennials, whose progressive mindset is effectively changing the way airlines engage with smart phone technology to improve upon the customer experience.
“The exciting thing about the millennial demographic is that it is driving an airline’s investment in smart phone technology.
Meanwhile, Sharp said the airline’s research showed 87 per cent of its business travellers used their mobile phone for planning travel or while they were travelling.
Further, they were more likely to use their personal devices for things such as checking in.
“Our corporate travellers, when compared to our leisure travellers, have a higher dependency on app-based check-ins too, with 45 per cent of our customers who mainly travel for business using the app for such purposes, as compared to our customers who mainly travel for leisure, where the figure stands at 31 per cent,” Sharp said.
“All of these apps have one thing in common – it is about us putting the customer first and new and emerging technologies enable us to be able to do this with precision. Effectively, by digitising customer experiences through smart phone technology, Virgin has been able to eliminate common travelling pain-points to provide an integrated, automated, travelling experience.”