Lots of mobile apps aim to connect users to a brand. British Airways' Perfect Days app for iPhone does that, but more important, it connects customers.
The app, which launched over the summer, is an extension of a popular Facebook app the airline started in January. Each enables users to share the itinerary of a perfect day in their favorite destinations using digital pushpins on a Google map.
"These recommendations are really compelling," says Corporate Communications Manager Michele Kropf. "We hope that inspires others to experience the destination for themselves."
It seems to have done that. The Facebook app has already received dozens, if not hundreds, of Perfect Days recommendations, and Kropf says numbers have shot up since the launch of the app.
Why an app?
British Airways started the Perfect Days app on Facebook because the company's research showed that's what their customers were using social media to do: Talk about their trips and share recommendations. The Facebook app gave users a clear way to do that—with maps.
Perfect Days was already successful on Facebook and British Airways already had a mobile app for checking in to flights and looking up departure times, so why create a Perfect Days mobile app?
"Extending our Perfect Days Facebook app to mobile was an obvious next step for us, as it enables users to quickly and easily capture and share their favorite experiences when they are in the destination," Kropf says.
The mobile version of the app uses a smartphone's GPS to locate where customers are, to serve as a starting point for putting markers on the map. That's something Facebook can't do. It also includes lists of things to do in a given city so people can make vacation decisions when they're in their destination.
Development took about two months, Kropf says.
"We began the development process by working with innovation partners at a London College, Ravensbourne, to find out how they would use the app and ensure that it was built with the user at its heart," Kropf says.
The Facebook and mobile apps ask users to imagine their readers have 24 hours to spend in their dream destination, and take them through what they should spend those 24 hours doing. Users can upload photos and add descriptions to each pinned point of interest. They can even create custom text messages for their friends, asking them to come meet them at a particular spot.
The mobile app includes a button users can tap to share their perfect days on Facebook, but, tellingly, it doesn't have any direct ticketing features. Users press a button to go to British Airways' mobile commerce site.
It's about community, Richard Bowden, digital innovation manager for British Airways, told Mobile Commerce Daily.
"We wanted to help our community of global travelers by giving them easy-to-view, unique ideas from people who have visited before," he said.
Results and future plans
Kropf did not share an exact number of app downloads of perfect days shared, but she did say the number has been increasing since the app's launch, "not only from our customers but also from our pilots and our cabin crew, who are sharing their perfect days while down-route."
The Facebook version of the app has netted about 1,700 "likes."
One major difference between the Facebook and mobile apps is the number of destinations people have available to write about. On Facebook, users have dozens of places all over the world to choose from. As of now, the mobile app offers just nine: Berlin, The Caribbean, Florida, London, New York, Madrid, Mumbai, Rome, and San Francisco.
Kropf says the airline hopes to include all the airline's destinations in the near future.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.