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Q&A with Chris Lopinto, ExpertFlyer

OneTravel Online Marketing Manager, Cleo Kirkland, interviews ExpertFlyer.com Co-founder and President, Chris Lopinto, regarding the launch of their new mobile app for iPhone and Android.  The app helps air travelers get out of the middle seat or get a group of seats together when traveling with a companion. Find out more below…

 


1)    ExpertFlyer recently introduced its Seat Alerts feature as a free app for iOS and Android devices. What is Seat Alerts and what made you decide to offer this as a free service for non-subscribers to ExpertFlyer?

Seat Alerts solves a big problem for today’s travelers – getting the seat you want on your flight. You tell Seat Alerts what flight you are on and the type of seat you want (window, aisle, two seats together, etc) and Seat Alerts lets you know if a better seat becomes available.  Until recently, our Seat Alerts feature was only available through a paid subscription to ExpertFlyer.

However, we realized that it really doesn’t matter how often or infrequent people travel; everyone hates the middle seat.  While it’s true that our subscriber sweet spot has been the road warrior, business traveler, and frequent flier, we saw an opportunity to cater to a larger piece of the air travel market.  Offering free Seat Alerts allows us to “introduce” ourselves to the general consumer that may travel just a couple of times a year – students coming home from college; moms planning the family vacation; or grandparents visiting the grandkids.

We wanted to offer a simple free service to the general flying public that allowed the casual traveler a chance to get out of the middle seat on their next flight, so we created the free version of ExpertFlyer along with the mobile apps.

If you have a ticket for a flight, but there are no seats available, Expert Flyer can let you know when there is one, so you have a seating assignment before you get to the airport.  Our Seat Alerts feature currently monitors more than 120 airline carriers worldwide.


2)    Among other features that ExpertFlyer provides to subscribers, your Awards & Upgrades feature seems to be one of the more popular features. How does your Awards & Upgrades feature work and what makes it so popular?

Our Awards & Upgrades feature is the easiest and least frustrating way to find an Award ticket or Upgrade in real-time.  Travelers would simply enter the airline(s) you want to fly, the destination, the date(s) and then Search.  ExpertFlyer will show you in real-time the number of Award tickets and/or Upgrades available based on your query.  This is especially important for travelers who wish to upgrade a Coach ticket to Business Class.  By knowing how many Upgrades are available, travelers can book Coach tickets on specific flights that will drastically improve their ability to secure an Upgrade based on the number of upgrades shown as available.

However, travelers do not always have the flexibility to choose flights based on available Award tickets or Upgrades.  If you must take a particular flight where no Award or Upgrades are available, travelers can set up a Flight Alert for as many as many as 20 different queries (flights).  If an Award ticket or Upgrade becomes available on any of your queries, ExpertFlyer will send you instant notification via email to your computer, phone, PDA, etc. (up to three addresses).  Simply call your airline and get the Award or Upgrade you desire.

Flight Alerts also alleviates the stress, frustration, and time consuming process of calling airlines each day, or even several times a day, to check on the status of an Award ticket or Upgrade.  Simply create a Flight Alert and let ExpertFlyer notify you if it finds your desired request.


3)    In your opinion, how important will mobile apps be for business travelers moving forward? Will the future success of some travel-related businesses depend on their ability to provide mobile solutions for their customers?

Mobile apps are already important for business travelers and they will become even more important as the feature-set of mobile apps catches up with that of traditional websites. I think mobile will be a key to success for apps that provide last minute or just-in-time services (eg ground transportation), or those that wish to target a younger demographic.


4)    Is there anything ExpertFlyer is looking at for the future in terms of other technologies or features for its customer base?

ExpertFlyer is always evaluating new technologies for inclusion into our already wide selection of services. Anything that can proactively help our customers make better travel decisions, along the lines of our existing Flight Alerts and Seat Alerts services, is always something we look to expand on.

 

Chris Lopinto is the Co-Founder and President of ExpertFlyer.com. He is widely viewed as an expert in the travel industry and has appeared on The Today Show, CNN and other TV news programs and is frequently quoted in The New York Times, Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal and numerous business travel publications. ExpertFlyer runs monthly sweepstakes giveaways on their Facebook page along with special news and offer here.    

 

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