The travel industry was the first hit by the effects of coronavirus. In late February 2020, Alaska Airlines began seeing the first impacts of the pandemic as bookings decreased and call center volume increased, due to travelers changing and cancelling their upcoming trips. Alaska Airline’s normal marketing approach and suite of alerts was not effective in the face of near-constant pandemic updates, identifying a need for competitor research, quick development of new UX and UI strategies, and a solutions-oriented approach that would bring all resources together to get the job done.
A first-time waiver and cancellation policy was hastily launched to ensure travelers they could book with confidence and not foot the bill for changes related to the evolving pandemic. With the new policy, call center volume increased precipitously as customers struggled to understand how this would impact their travel plans and risked eroding positive brand impressions.
Partner with marketing, operations, and legal to understand how new travel policies would affect each travelers’ journey and distill this understanding into paths within the website and mobile experience. With better organization of messaging, travelers were able to understand cleaning procedures should they have to travel and policies around cancelling or changing their tickets if their plans were impacted.
By reconfiguring the advisory banner as a navigation element we were able to direct travelers to information relevant to their needs, to reassure travelers that their health was our first priority. To do this, I researched competing airlines’ Coronavirus strategy and worked with marketing, copywriters, and developers to design a new page with all pertinent information. On this page we highlighted ever-changing updates, integrated a toggle menu of different scenarios that each traveler would fall under to reduce cognitive overload, and provided links to blog posts outlining what steps Alaska Airlines is taking to ensure traveler safety if their travel is essential.
As coronavirus dominated user needs, the homepage required that the normal layout be reconfigured to highlight information relating to the unfolding pandemic, but also allow those who still need to travel the opportunity and knowledge to book with confidence.
The Coronavirus landing page was broken into three parts in order to direct users to the most relevant information for their needs:
Utilizing an agile process, we were able to rapidly iterate messaging and design throughout the first waves of Coronavirus fears. I kept daily tabs on how Alaska Airlines’ competitors were handling communications with customers. In doing so, I set up a matrix to determine where we were relative to other airlines to ensure we were exceeding customer expectations. This is just one iteration of this living document, which was included in all presentations to marketing and continually integrating adjustments to ensure we were providing the whole picture.