Southwest Airlines revamps its site, not booking process: media
Southwest Airlines Co. has worked on its site to offer quicker and easier-to-read links to reservation and booking systems, online passenger check-in and other flight data. (1/16/2007)
According to media reports, even as the airline has gone ahead with the first major redesign of its Internet presence in nearly five years, as on the old site, Southwest’s new home page still makes customers tap a link to get to booking, flight schedules and other travel functions. But the reservations link is much more prominent and opens a window in an instant, without requiring another full page to load. The Dallas-based low-cost carrier says 70 percent of its customers book online, with an average of 10 million monthly visitors to its site.
Anne Murray, Southwest’s senior director of online marketing, reportedly shared that the airline asked customers, both frequent and infrequent, whether they would prefer that the home page have the flight booking function open for reservations.
“It was very clear in the usability study that it wasn’t an even decision on preference, open or closed," Murray said.
The media reports shared that Southwest officials decided to leave the function closed. However, they may let customers set preferences to have the booking window be open when they go to the Southwest home page, Murray said. Getting the website right is important to all airlines, but probably none more so than Southwest. In 2005, only 11 percent of its tickets were sold by travel agents, and just 15 percent by Southwest’s reservation-center agents, its been reported.
As per the information available, the old site actually gave visitors three places to go to book a flight: A “Reservations” button at the upper left, a “Book Travel” button with a suitcase icon in the middle and a “Book Air” hyperlink toward the bottom of the page. According to Southwest, more than eight of 10 visitors chose the reservations button. Its been reported that the new site is less cluttered than the old, with fewer links to click.
Murray said the revamp isn’t so much about content as it is how the content is organised. She likened the old site to a smaller house that had a lot of additions over the years. “Based on our knowledge of our customers, we feel like we’ve made a nice transition,” she reportedly said.