Name: Tom O’Toole
Title: Senior vice president, marketing and loyalty, and president, MileagePlus
Company, city: United, Chicago
Number of employees: More than 85,000
Recent project: Introducing new product features, a new brand advertising campaign, new digital channels, onboard WiFi and new onboard media
First job: Movie theater usher
Little-known fact about you: I like football and cars.
Essential business philosophy: Decide what needs to be done and do it.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Get out of the office and into the world.
Yardstick of success: Credibility
Tom O’Toole as a Traveler
What is the most important item you take when traveling? My iPad
How do you spend your time on board? Reading
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Tidepools on Kaua’i, Hawaii
What is your favorite destination in the world? Kaua’i, Hawaii
What is new at United? This is a great time at United. Three months ago we launched our largest brand advertising campaign in more than a decade, redefining the iconic “Fly the Friendly Skies” tagline. “Flyer friendly” now means user-friendly for today’s travelers and expresses the convergence of technology, product features and customer experience.
As we build the world’s leading airline, we are raising our customer experience through investments in service training, all-new digital channels, new aircraft, global satellite WiFi, premium-cabin lie-flat seating, Economy Plus seating, expanded overhead bins, onboard power outlets and more. Plus, we’re opening new United Clubs, renovating United Clubs and upgrading our gate areas.
What new MileagePlus initiatives has United launched? Our MileagePlus frequent-flyer program continues to lead the industry. Global Traveler readers named MileagePlus the world’s best frequent-flyer program in 2013 for the 10th consecutive year. In 2013, for the fourth year, IdeaWorksCompany’s annual study named MileagePlus as offering the most saver-award availability among the global U.S. carriers.
In 2013, we launched RewardsPlus with Marriott, the industry’s largest-ever combination of frequent-traveler programs, offering reciprocal elite status for our top Premier travelers and Marriott’s top customers. We also joined with Mercedes-Benz USA to offer incentives to MileagePlus Premiers when they purchase or lease certain new Mercedes-Benz models, and to offer a tarmac-transfer service to many Global Services members making connections at our largest hubs. Plus, we introduced the MileagePlus Small Business Network, through which businesses, in addition to individuals, can earn and redeem miles. These initiatives are just part of this year’s advances, and there are more developments in the works.
What is the most challenging aspect of keeping your frequent-flyer program innovative? The most challenging aspect is continuing to advance United’s business and loyalty program in economically sound ways, executing new developments at our scale, and recognizing the differing types of our very wide and diverse range of customers.
The Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC), the cultural cornerstone and final public element of the World Trade Center site, opened this September. The new performing arts center in Lower Manhattan provides a dynamic home for the arts, serving audiences and creators through flexible venues enabling the facility to embrace wide-ranging artistic programs.
Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler
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While the 372-passenger Viking Polaris expedition ship, launched in September 2022, falls midway in size between Viking Cruises’ intimate river cruise ships and large-scale ocean ships, it is operated with the same attention to detail and personalized service.
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On Sept. 25, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the prime minister of Iceland, revealed plans to add a tax on travelers visiting the country. The goal of the tax is to help offset the impact of tourism on the environment.
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