A clean approach to airplane booking that's mobile-first and strikingly pain free.
Even as Richard Branson was preparing a fleet of spaceships, Virgin America’s terrestrial booking experience was stuck in the era of Internet Explorer. To fix it, Virgin’s CMO tapped Luanne Calvert tapped Work & Co., a seven-person design studio startup that has previously worked with Google and Trip Advisor, and whose core team designed the HBO Go app in their previous roles at Huge. The result is a clean approach to airplane booking that’s mobile-first and strikingly pain free.
As a frequent flyer, Work & Co. co-founder Gene Liebel had a checklist of pet peeves and client requests to attend to. First off: The ads promising bargain vacations in Fort Lauderdale; the smiling models schilling credit cards, and the car rental offers. In other words, instead of using the site as a marketing tool, he wanted to strip it down to simply a booking destination.
These were all trade-offs that involved foregone revenue. But then again, one of Virgin’s key goals was increasing the number of flights booked on mobile devices and tablets. High-consideration purchases like airline bookings are still fairly rare on smartphones, in part because the websites are built on Web 1.0 technology stacks and comprised of UI elements that are a nightmare to navigate on small screens. And so Virgin invested in a responsive website rather than a website-plus-app strategy, on hopes that the ease for users would more than make up for the relatively small amount of ad dollars flowing through the page.