Dan Young is Head of Digital Experience at easyJet. He is set to speak at this year’s Festival of Marketing, all about the customer experience of easyJet’s native mobile app.

Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect from Dan at the Festival, which is happening on 10th and 11th October at Tobacco Dock in London.

How does easyJet’s mobile UX differentiate the brand? What makes it a great app?

Our ambition is to deliver the best experience possible at every step of the traveller journey. That means making it seamless, easy, and fun to use. We ensure we add features to our app that our customers value. We also listen to what our customers want. 

We have always looked at our mobile app very differently to our website offering, ensuring that we tailor the experience accordingly and ensure it’s always slick and super-fast to interact with.

Features such as passport scanning, flight tracking with Flight Radar 24, our AR bag scanning tool – and of course, the Look&Book feature – show how focused and dedicated we are to our customers, ensuring that every interaction with our app is enjoyable and easy. We think this is what keeps our customers loving our app, and keeps them coming back time and time again.

Can you explain a bit about the Look&Book feature and the inspiration behind the concept?

We realised there must be a way to make the customer journey from seeing inspiration through to booking travel so much easier, instead of having to do extensive research for questions like ‘where is that location, where is the nearest airport, which airlines fly there, what are the flight times and flight prices, etc.’

We had also drawn inspiration from ASOS: last year, the fashion retailer created a search function that enabled users to search its catalogue by using a photo of an item of clothing. That was great, but we wanted something that would work for travel.

We were also aware of what was going on with Instagram – that aspirational feel of seeing a celebrity or a friend doing something fun and wanting to know where they are. But what was happening was you find the photo, try and work out where it is, go into Google and find the nearest airport, then go to an airline’s website. We saw an opportunity to close that gap into a seamless process.

Dan Young

How does visual search provide value for users, specifically in the context of travel?

It makes discovery easier! It also removes friction and makes the search and inspiration part of the experience fun again. Travel is now the top category of interest on Instagram. Fact. It’s where our customers are.

While we could have waited for Instagram to unlock checkout for travel, we went on the offensive, invested in removing the existing friction for the customer travel search from Instagram and developed an innovative solution that’s easy and fun to use and is commercially viable too.

Can you share any stats about Look&Book’s success?

It’s running about 6% conversion! Very strong.

Without giving too much of your talk at FOM away, can you explain a bit about how easyJet scaled the project? Were there any particular challenges you faced?

We built an online platform that uses Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning services. This is so that users can upload screenshots from Instagram and understand where they were taken. The platform uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Cognitive services to try and identify where the photo was taken by reading the text and detecting key landmarks.

The platform then performed a Geo-lookup to find the destination and it’s nearest airports. The easyJet app team (travelport) then integrated this API into their mobile app to create the functionality.

The main challenges were scaling the feature to work on other platforms (i.e. Android) and other markets beyond the UK. But we are getting there.

What other technology trends do you think will impact the travel industry in the near future?

Voice is definitely growing and it will be making a big impact on travel. In terms of easyJet… all I can say is: watch this space.

Do you think social media will play an even bigger role in how consumers search and book travel?

Without a doubt. Social from a monetisation perspective has focused on ads, then on simple retail checkout experiences. When they unlock functionality that can handle travel transactions, that’s when it will get really exciting. We already know that Instagram Checkout for travel is still more than 12 months away.

Ultimately people need to source good and trusted recommendations, so social provides a platform of travel discovery the “search” part, now we just need to link up the “booking” element so that its super seamless and easy to convert lookers into bookers.

To hear more from easyJet’s Dan Young and a host of other speakers, check out the Festival of Marketing 2019 agenda and book your ticket.