Q&A with VP for Airlines in the Americas Region
VP, Airlines - Americas
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The Future of Airline Payments: Q&A with VP of Airlines in the Americas (Part 1)

Howard Blankenship joined the CellPoint Mobile executive team as VP of Airlines for the Americas region in August, 2018 (read the announcement here). Howard provides strategic sales and revenue development for the company’s team serving carriers in the North America, Latin America and the Caribbean markets.

We recently asked Howard about his perspective on some of the challenges facing airlines today. In Part 1 of the interview, we discuss airline technology and specifically growth in the mobile channel. Part 2 focuses on specific global regions for the airline industry.

ON THE MOBILE CHANNEL…

I would emphasize that mobile is the growth channel. It already accounts for the majority of travel bookings and it is hard to imagine travel today without a mobile device, even for simple functions like check-in or just making purchases with a mobile wallet.

For airlines, mobile is definitely a pain point despite its clear benefits to passengers. Many airlines are struggling to create a seamless, omni-channel experience between Carrier.com, mobile and native sites. Most airlines have an inconsistent user experience across devices and channels, making it difficult for today’s travelers who often begin and end the booking process in different places.

ON LEGACY TECHNOLOGY VENDORS…

There is more than enough room in the airline industry for new technology vendors who focus on specific aspects of travel technology. Unfortunately, the legacy PSS companies are narrowly focused, and investment is driven by community and market. Newer technology providers such as ourselves are more agile and nimble and able to address specific needs without rebuilding or replacing legacy systems. Our bespoke approach truly improves time to market, for example, when implementing alternative payment methods (APMs).

ON DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION…

Digital transformation for airlines has to start somewhere and booking and payments can be the natural starting point, since these make every transaction possible. Rather than focus on high-level questions about payment strategy or complicated legacy systems, the key question is whether you are offering the right booking and payment options to the markets you serve.

When a carrier matches the offering (payment options, for example) to the market, acceptance rates go up, rejects go down and seats are filled. Digital transformation and revenue growth are not just about the right aircraft or inflight service, but are you able to accept cash, debit, credit cards, peer to peer, installments, bank transfers, card-based form, etc.?

We can help these airlines with our innovative outlook – CellPoint Mobile is not only focused on the 2-year short term but we’re executing on our 5- and 10-year vision for mobile-first technology in this space. 

HOWARD CONTINUES THE CONVERSATION IN PART 2… 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview where Howard discusses North America, Latin America and the future of airline payments. In the meantime, CellPoint Mobile 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.