I met some representatives from OTOlabs at the recent TravelCom conference in Las Vegas in April. Desktop tools such as the Southwest’s DING! application have clearly proven their value in creating a more intimate relationship with customers. OTOlabs’ is the developer of ThinkDesktop applications such as Vail Resorts’ SnowMate. I worked with Vail Resorts (as part of a PhoCusWright engagement) back in 2005. The SnowMate application is a critical tool Vail has successfully used to bond with their best customers. The Southwest DING! application had over 1 million downloads the first six months. Southwest delivers daily messages on special promotions to the desktop of millions of customers reinforcing their image as a low fare leader and bonding the customer to the Southwest brand.
I am a strong believer that providing a small desktop application to deliver personalized information to your customer is an essential component of a Travel 2.0 strategy. To my surprise the OTOlabs folks indicated that other airlines have been very slow to embrace this concept. This is truly baffling considering the transparency of the Web and desire of airlines to develop a closer bond with their best customers.