LoungeBuddy (TLabs here) has rolled out its 2.0 vision, which includes an industry first: in-app mobile booking for lounge access.
Instant airport lounge bookings are currently available at 13 airports in the UK, including all of London's most-trafficked airports. The United States, Canada, Asia and Australia are being worked on for an upcoming rollout.
The startup has inked deals with two of the largest independent lounge operators, Swissport International Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited, to provide in-app bookings for lounges.
The startup, which pioneered the ability to search and review lounges at airports around the world, is the first to crack the nut of the purchase of lounge access on mobile phones. This has been a very difficult problem to address, given the legacy systems and scattered nature of the lounge ecosystem.
It's these sorts of insurmountable challenges that can yield big rewards (see our interviews with Joel Cutler and Brad Gerstner for more on that) as the market, once defined and connected, can be enormous. Given that there are no other brands operating in this space, LoungeBuddy is well-positioned to build a lucrative ongoing revenue stream by allowing travelers to book lounge access right on their phones.
Further integration with branded airline apps can also provide a boost in ancillary revenues, and allow airlines to pursue further personalization of the experience for situations related to loyalty and disruption.
Shaun Weston, Travel Services Director for Swissport, commented in the release:
We are delighted to partner with LoungeBuddy and look forward to welcoming LoungeBuddy customers to our lounges. The intuitive app developed by LoungeBuddy now means more travellers can access our lounges where they can expect contemporary surroundings, fantastic facilities and superb customer service.
The new access feature also extends to hundreds of airline elite statuses, lounge memberships and credit cards, so the app can provide access to those lounges that users already have access to. The startup calls this its "intelligent Lounge Access Wizard," which works in the background to sort saved multi-leg itineraries with multiple carriers and determine which lounges can be accessed where.
CEO Tyler Dikman sees this next step as key to connecting lounges globally:
When we first launched LoungeBuddy, it was our goal to help travelers to discover their airport oasis. With the launch of LoungeBuddy 2.0, all travelers can now instantly book and access these secluded spaces in the airport in less than 60 seconds. In such a tense environment, airport lounges provide an escape, functioning as the last bastion of comfort and tranquility for travelers.
Instant bookings for lounges is definitely something to keep an eye on, as LoungeBuddy is trying to do something that hasn't been done before for the niche lounge space. Huge potential upside here, as well as plenty of more connecting work to be done by LoungeBuddy.