Southwest Airlines customers who use its DING desktop application are more likely to book tickets with the Dallas-based airline, a study released today said.

Online research firm Compete Inc., Boston, found that DING users are 45 percent more likely to book tickets through Southwest than the average visitor to Southwest.com. Sales driven through the service are estimated at $60 million a year.

More than 900,000 consumers have downloaded the free application, which sits in the computer user's system tray and delivers daily offers exclusive to DING users, since it launched in February.

Despite the desktop tool's success, other airlines and travel companies have not followed suit, said Gregory Saks, senior associate with Compete's Travel Practice. He sees this as a major missed loyalty opportunity, with 80 million consumers researching travel services online monthly.

"DING has about 1 percent of penetration," he said. "There certainly is an opportunity for other players, but Southwest has the early mover advantage."

Such a tool would help stem travel consumers' propensity for "cross-shopping," comparing prices and services on several sites before booking. Online travel prospects now engage in 27 percent more cross-shopping than two years ago, Compete found.

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