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.
Tribute Portfolio helps friends celebrate Friendsgiving with special stay bundles available through Nov. 30. The limited-time bundles feature locally inspired Thanksgiving dinners and amenities.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
Marriott recently announced the purchase of W New York – Union Square. The company paid $206 million for the 270-guestroom property, with intentions to transform the hotel into a better representation of the W brand.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Believing human connection makes life more meaningful, Kimpton recently launched its Stay Human Project in Europe. As part of the project, the brand transformed one guestroom from each hotel with the aim of using it to help guests connect to each other, themselves and locals. The unique guestroom experiences are currently available for booking in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands until the end of the year.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.