This is tMore US consumers will book their hotels, airfares and other travel options via a smartphone or similar device in 2014 (26 million US consumers will book hotels, airfares and other travel options via smartphone or similar device in 2014
This is true, but it is important to understand the full flow through process of apps or they can be annoying. Apps need to be robust and follow through the process at every user interaction in real life.
For example, last night I arrived at Wellington airport. My Air New Zealand app told me about traffic and weather and interesting things like that, which was really good.
I used it to enter the Koru lounge using my boarding pass which was great. However when I came out of the boarding lounge the experience was not so good. When you go out of the lounge passengers are typically boarding. The app didn’t tell me which gate to go to, so now I was in a bit of a hurry. (Normally it does, but as I mentioned it needs to be robust and this time it didn’t). I had to go to a monitor to find out and the flight number was slightly different (had an extra number on it from what was on my iPhone). I ended up having to ask someone to confirm it.
So now I go through security because Wellington has security at each gate as opposed to Auckland where everyone goes through the same security channel prior to the gates.
There is a throng of people funneling through to two attendant kiosks. My place in the throng channels me to the right where I am ready to drop my iPhone wit it’s QR Code on the scanner, but wait. No scanner. No I see why a number of people have been pushed from one queue to the other, embarrassingly placing themselves in front of other people at the head of the line, as if they were queue jumping (not the Kiwi way) or in some cases going right to the back of the other line and waiting all over again.
Of the two check in kiosks, only one of them had a a scanner and the other one was only for ‘real’ printed boarding passes. Then you still have to have a ‘gate pass’ printed. What’s that about? I have a full application that provides a visible digital boarding pass, why kill more trees to give me a piece of paper when I already have all the info on my mobile.
In my humble opinion, the people with these apps need to not only test them theoretically, but actually travel, or have mystery fliers use them and just spend a day periodically traveling through various domestic airport routes and see how it works. Preferably incognito.
Apps are great, but they have to provide a quality end to end experience. They should provide the full end to end service and be of benefit at all ends of the value chain. It should be an easier customer story,
Oh and why can’t I confirm my seat on the app? I still have to go to the Air NZ web site to request a specific seat. That’s more double handling.
Remember how different grocery shopping was before apps and self scanning? They saved loads of money on labels, staff and process and gave the customers who chose to use the services faster throughput as well as a lot more information, like navigation through the store to find your items, specials and promotion information and recipes. The whole experience improved.
Air NZ is 3/4 of the way there, but it doesn’t feel like they have got it right. Yesterday they almost convinced me to go back to the expensive kiosks for a REAL boarding pass.
Oh and don’t get me started on the Auckland Airport parking. Why isn’t that an app? 3 visits in the last week. Two out of three machines (one per day) either not processing some cards or types of transactions, one day where one didn’t provide a receipt so I can’t claim the parking on my expenses. 2 of the 3 cold wet days they did have staff trying to help people in the long queues, but the customer experience and mood was not one that the Airport Company would crow as a success story. I note that this is a separate company and not Air NZ.
Also a note that I really do like Air NZ and this is using them as an example only. There are many airlines around the world offering similar wanting experiences. I just feel that these experiences shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. Apps are so popular because they help ease the frustrations of the travel experience when they work properly.
One of the songs I wrote is called The Best Part of Going Away is Coming Home. I love visiting other places and people, but the process of getting through the airports and onto the planes is much harder than it should be. Put as much effort into the full experience as you do on the wonderful safety instruction video and in flight service, with fantastic crews and you’ll have more happy customers. It can’t be hard.