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United hopes that consistent information sharing and mobile digital services will improve its relationship with passengers. They can't hurt, but this doesn't even begin to address United's core problems, which are leadership and competence.

United Airlines wants to improve its connection to passengers. It aims to be better, sharper, faster, consistent, mobile.

To accomplish this, it’s turning to tech.

At the SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels (ATIS), United Airlines’ Managing Director, Strategy and Business Management, Information and Technology, Peter Hammer, told peers that the airline plans to take a leading role by improving digital and mobile services.

“At United we take our role as a thought leader and as someone to ignite change very seriously,” he said. “We think first about the travel experience. We’ve heard a lot of discussion about this. How does United airlines define the travel experience? What is the passenger journey that we use to anchor all parts of our company as we all work together in concert to make changes to this.”

The magnitude of United’s operations, Hammer suggests, make providing a consistent passenger experience challenging. “We’re a big airline with a lot of moving parts, a lot of organizations within our company make that happen. To complicate that, it gets even harrier, we have more companies that we work with, partners other parts of the travel value chain that participate in how our customers ultimately experience this travel value chain.”

Hammer believes the airline will have to work closely with partners to build common foundations for data management, and data exchange, and work towards a harmonized digital experience.

“It’s important that, as we think about the passenger journey, that we think about the definition of the experience and that we think about common outcomes in terms of branding and brand delivery, meeting passenger needs and doing that effectively, and that we’ve really aligned in terms of capability and complement across the partners, so that we’re delivering value in that part of the journey,” Hammer says.

Hammer also banks on mobile as the platform which will best serve passengers’ needs going forward. “Today is really all about mobile, it’s about delivering mobile capability, delivering mobile access to our passenger at all points throughout the customer journey,” he says.

The airline, which has recently revamped its website and mobile app to a smoother user interface, which allows passengers to perform light personalization including the selection of their favorite web-site theme, hopes to satisfy customers through timely information sharing and digital travel solutions, earning repeat business and increasing passenger loyalty.

“The goal is that the airline and the passenger realizes value,” he says, adding that United wants to deliver “a seamless experience, where they really can’t wait for that next experience.”

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Tags: digital, mobile apps, united airlines

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