We recently sat down with Howard Blankenship, VP of Airlines for the Americas region at CellPoint Mobile. You can read Part 1 here where Howard discusses why the mobile channel is the growth channel for airlines. In Part 2, Howard looks more closely at the regions he serves – Latin America, the Caribbean and North America – and the future of airline payments in these regions.
ON LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN…
Latin America and the Caribbean represent a diverse, multifaceted operational region for airlines, one with perhaps a unique array of requirements. On the one hand, there is abundant opportunity for airlines across so many countries and markets. But only a handful of carriers have real enterprise payment and digital strategies, which limits their revenue growth as passenger volumes increase and as emerging consumers in the region adopt alternative and mobile payment methods. Their ultimate challenge is matching the specific market to the preferred commerce of that market; the region is no longer dominated by four or five credit card brands, as it had been in the past.
Also, like most regions, Latin America and the Caribbean sometimes have opposing agendas between Technology, Treasurer and the Business Units, which is what often keeps airlines from adopting new technology in a timely manner. We’ve seen cases of airlines believing they have the “right product” (aircraft, time, price) for a new market, only to be unsuccessful due to an inadequate commerce strategy. At CellPoint Mobile, we help airlines avoid this trap.
ON THE NORTH AMERICA MARKET
North America is of course a key region in terms of major carriers and global passenger traffic. Oddly enough, I find the innovation in our space (i.e., mobile commerce) mostly lives with the legacy carriers. But it is really the “successful” airlines that are the innovators in our space – the carriers that can unify an enterprise, a digital strategy, and the ability to match commerce to markets – and these airlines are likely going to have better strategies across the board.
ON THE FUTURE OF AIRLINE PAYMENTS…
Payments have become more complex for airlines, and with so many alternative payment methods (APMs) available to customers, payment strategy has become key to airlines’ larger merchandising goals. Some carriers are adjusting quickly, and we can expect to see their gains in short order. Passengers are figuring out how to best use their mobile devices throughout their entire journey. Mobile will certainly lead the way in terms of priorities as more airlines recognize that matching payment options to markets is a clear lever for success.
On a final note, I look forward to getting to know more about your airline at industry conferences and discussing the needs and challenges that airlines in the Americas are faced with, particularly when it comes to booking and payments. CellPoint Mobile continues to make considerable strategic investments in these areas. Not only is our innovation focused on a 2-year outlook, but we are investing where our customers want to be positioned in 5, 10 and 20 years. We will soon be publishing an industry report specifically for airlines in Latin America and the Caribbean – you can read the first part of the report here.