In today’s marketplace, it’s not enough for an airline to simply have an app. Cutting-edge functionality, efficient tools and, yes, fun bells and whistles are needed to engender consumer loyalty and drive increased revenue. The new app from Singapore Airlines ticks all the boxes and provides a new model for the industry.
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Singapore Airlines has released a new mobile app that makes use of augmented reality, real-time language translation, image-based search features, and other innovative features. Built from scratch, the new app aims to improve usability, enhance customer satisfaction, and give passengers more control over their journeys, according to the airline.
“Singapore Airlines has been investing heavily to enhance our digital capabilities,” said Campbell Wilson, the carrier’s senior vice president sales and marketing, in a release. “With new user interface designs and insourcing of developer and customer experience talent, we are working to provide faster and more customer-centric products and services to improve the customer experience.”
The new app, which runs on both Android and iOS devices, is up to 60 percent faster than the previous version when it comes to basic tasks like booking and checking in. It also introduces a number of new features, Singapore Airlines said. Capture & Discover is a new travel search tool that uses natural language processing and image recognition to help users discover fare deals and destination content. Translation Assistant helps travelers better communicate with real-time translation between more than 100 languages. And an augmented reality Measure Your Baggage tool helps travelers determine if their cabin baggage is the appropriate size by simply scanning the bag via the app.
The new app is part of a larger effort underway at the airline to innovate across segments of the company and in markets around the world. “The launch of our new app follows many other digital innovation initiatives, such as KrisPay, the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet, and the progressive redesign of our website and its underlying architecture,” Wilson said in a release.
The carrier is also going beyond digital tools in its effort to embrace technology. “In 2016, Singapore again started flying nonstop to the United States, from San Francisco, and last year it resumed flying from Los Angeles and New York,” Skift reported in May. Those flights were made possible through the deployment of brand-new Airbus A350 aircraft built from advanced materials that provide a better on-board experience for passengers. More recently, the carrier launched its first-ever non-stop service between Singapore and Seattle, “part of the largest expansion in flight frequency in Singapore Airlines’ U.S. history,” a spokesperson told Skift.
It’s not Tech for Tech’s Sake
These days, “airlines are empowering customers — especially those who download mobile apps — to make their own decisions,” said Brian Sumers, Skift’s senior aviation business editor, in a recent interview with Marketwatch.
While booking and check-in are common use cases for existing airline apps, the new Singapore Airlines tool suggests a broader future for the mobile-first technology. By including inspiration and travel management tools in one place — not to mention content from the KrisWorld entertainment system — the app acts as a one stop shop for customer interaction. The tool also gives passengers more control over personalizing their experience, something that’s in huge demand these days.
“The emergence of co-creation and collaboration between travel company and traveler has become perhaps the most impactful change the industry has seen,” wrote Skift’s Andrew Sheivachman earlier this year. “The control that travelers now have during every phase of their trip will begin to revolutionize the sector starting in 2019, and smart travel companies are paying attention to ways they can empower their customers without eroding the value of their brand.”
For Singapore Airlines, this new digital tool is the key to letting every passenger “co-create” his or her own trip. “The new app has features that enable users to personalise their own travel, such as customizing their own inflight entertainment playlist,” said a spokesperson for the airline. “In addition to giving users the ability to personalize their journeys, the app provides users [with] contextual information and personalized messages based on their profiles and stages of their trip.”
“We wanted to bring the app user experience to another level, by making it smoother, faster and more intuitive,” the spokesperson continued. “Instead of simply updating it, we opted to redesign the app and build features natively for iOS and Android operating systems as we saw that as the best way to significantly enhance performance and user experience, particularly during the booking and check-in flows, which has improved transaction time by up to 60 percent.”
What the Future Holds
The newly launched app hits the market at a time when the broader aviation sector is highly focused on mobile apps. At the World Aviation Festival in London this September, numerous carriers demonstrated their app innovations for a panel of judges including Brian Kelly, the founder of The Points Guy, and Seth Miller of PaxEx.Aero. Among the features that caught the judges’ eyes were an augmented reality filter that measures baggage sizes, a tool that uses Instagram images as a flight-search tool, and voice-activated controls, according to a recap of the event in HMG Aerospace. The newly released Singapore Airlines app has a couple of those innovative features, including the ability to measure bag sizes through the camera on iOS devices and Capture & Discover search function that helps travelers plan future journeys and find flight deals using photos and speech recognition interfaces.
As passengers continue to demand mobile innovation, carriers including Singapore Airlines will have to keep up. “Over the next few years, we anticipate passengers demanding more services and [mobile] tools to help them throughout their journey,” according to a recent white paper from SITA, the aviation-focused IT company. “SITA’s research shows that 59 percent [of travelers] are ‘very willing’ to use their mobiles for ID verification along the journey, with a further 33 percent open to the idea.”
The challenge of doing more on mobile is one Singapore Airlines is already embracing, Wilson said. “Improvements to our mobile app will not stop here and we will continue to invest our efforts to add value to our customers’ experience,” he said.