With its peers seeing financial and social benefits accruing from mobile Apps, Uganda Airlines is placing hopes in its own mobile App, launched August 15, to achieve a better grip on communications with its clients, as well as a more even split between ticket bookings through its owned channels and external sales agents.
According to the carriers most recent reservations data, bookings have been split 60/40 between booking agents and its own channels such as the website and sales offices. Officials are now optimistic that the App will push the trend towards more balance between external agents sales and owned channels, or even completely flip the order in favour of the carrier.
However, Chief Commercial Officer Adedayo Olawuyi was quick to caution that the App was not in any way, intended to supplant travel agents.
“We are not against our partners in the travel trade, we still value the sales agents and shall continue to work with them. We simply realised that people are increasingly reliant on their mobile phones for regular activities including travel; hence the need for us to bring the convenience of this App within reach of their arm,” he told AirInsight.
For example, once a customer has filled in basic details like their biodata and identity documents, they will not need to file them again when they book their next trip. All this will now be securely stored and automatically prompted for every time the customer logs into the App.
The App’s initial functionality will allow users to search for flights, make reservations, check-in and process digital boarding passes, as well as well as enrollment into the carrier’s Craneflyer frequent flyer programme. Users can also indicate their meal preferences in advance. While more features will be introduced over time, chief executive Jenifer Bamuturaki says, besides a personalised travel experience, the App will streamline communication between the airline and its customers.
“When we go through third-parties such as travel agents to book passengers, there is a snag in the communication flow, because we don’t have access to basic information such as the clients telephone contacts. If we happen to have a service disruption for any reason, it will be easier for us keep our guests updated through the App,” Bamuturaki said.
The App has a flight tracking function of the carrier’s flights in real-time and travellers can pay for flights using the major international debit or credit cards, or the mobile-money wallets offered by telecom operators within East Africa, Bamuturaki explained further.