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British Airways has signalled its intention to move into mobile selling following the launch this week of its first smartphone app.
The app lets people access flight information and check-in times, while executive club members can generate a boarding pass on their mobile that can be scanned by airport security, speeding up boarding (nma.co.uk 16 July 2010).
Chris Davies, BA’s head of digital marketing, told new media age it has plans to extend its mobile strategy to include ticket sales. “Eventually the main revenue from the app will be generated through buying flights,” he said.
BA is the second UK airline to announce m-commerce plans. Last month easyJet announced plans to launch a mobile sales site as part of an intensified strategy to increase traffic from mobile phones.
Davies said BA was taking an “iterative approach” to attain its ultimate aim of selling flights via its mobile app. “We’re aiming for rollout by August, with the next stage being adding gate information,” he said. “We hope to get as much feedback as possible, giving customers a service that’s easy to use and with great functionality.” He suggested that features such as destination guides could also be added.
Davies said functionality and convenience, not “flashy entertainment”, are the drivers of the airline’s digital strategy, applying as much to social media as to apps. “Social media has to add value. You can’t just use it because it’s what everyone else is doing,” he said.
BA’s current cautious approach to social media contrasts with budget airline easyJet, which plans to sell flights via its Facebook page after providing holiday planning tools to help people share their travel plans.
BA does plan to integrate Facebook plug-ins and implement Facebook Open Graph, however, to give further opportunity to deepen engagement with its customers through recommended services and offers.
Davies also sees opportunities in geolocation sites like Foursquare. “It’s important to get as much information as possible, but there’s potential for sponsorship of locations,” he said.