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.
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.
The Airline Passenger Experience Association and SimpliFlying recognized United Airlines for providing a hospital-grade standard of cleanliness and safety during travel. Among the four largest U.S. carriers, United is the first to receive Diamond Certification, the highest in the new APEX Health Safety audit powered by SimpiliFlying.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
A couple of my friends and I decided to rent a house in the Camelback Mountain area of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains for New Year’s Eve. To find the perfect place, we used Vrbo.com; there were a bunch of properties to choose from, but, in the end, we decided to rent a place in The Village at Camelback.
The International Air Transport Association and Etihad Airways partnered to launch the IATA Travel Pass for passengers on the Gulf carrier. The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app that helps passengers manage travel in line with government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccines. It will be initially offered on select Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi in early 2021, with plans to extend the offer if successful.
Are you looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own refined adventure of a lifetime. You can custom order your new Volvo, tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection recently debuted a complete redesign, now standing as a luxurious, modern mountain resort in Telluride, Colorado. At 10,540 feet, the ski-in/ski-out retreat boasts new social spaces, a refreshed lobby, a new boutique, a collection of new guest experiences and amenities, and wellness offerings. Additionally, Madeline features a collaboration with Olympian Gus Kenworthy, who helped create the hotel’s Recovery Ski Lounge.