What is the outlook for the aviation industry for 2020? What role will data play in enhancing the customer experience? What will be the most significant trends that will shape the next decade? These were just some of the questions that were on everyone’s mind at the CAPA World Aviation Summit, held 5-6 December 2019 in Malta. The industry’s biggest names gathered for this intimate conference to discuss the major trends that are impacting all players in the aviation sector – from airlines and airports, to travel technology companies and OTAs.
1. Sustainability within the aviation industry
The topic of sustainability and the aviation industry’s role was a significant talking point through the CAPA World Aviation Summit. The need for environmental sustainability was identified as potentially the single biggest issue facing both the aviation sector and the world, requiring one united voice from both airlines and airports working together to become achievable. From the development of more efficient aircraft and investing in sustainable alternative fuels to airports to advancements in airspace management, many efforts are being considered by the aviation industry.
2. Leveraging data to enhance the travel experience
As a proud presenting partner of this unique event, Infare CCO Harald Eisenaecher took the stage with other industry leaders to discuss the growing importance of big data within the aviation industry and how airlines can use data to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to airfare pricing strategies. Joining Harald on the panel were Air Malta Chairman Charles Mangion, Vienna Airport CEO Julian Jaeger and Volantio CEO Azim Barodawala.
The lively presentation highlighted the importance of utilising and sharing data to ensure travellers have a consistent experience at every point in their journey – from initial trip planning to netting the right price at the right time in the right channel. While airlines can gather vast amounts of personal data on their customers to provide a seamless experience, airports collect other information (such as when a traveller passes through security or the level of passenger traffic at a gate). If airports and airlines worked together to share key data, customers would experience a more cohesive journey, increasing overall satisfaction.
3. Innovation is key
The use of AI, machine learning and other technologies to improve efficiency and offer more dynamic pricing was another important topic hit upon throughout the panel. By fully utilising the potential of AI and using it to deliver the personal touch that travellers are looking for when making their purchases, airlines can predict and offer prices and products that exactly meet their customer’s needs. This dynamic pricing provides the potential to increase conversion rates on the bottom line by delivering airfare deals and other ancillary services that are personalised and match the needs of each customer. As noted by Eisenaecher during the discussion, “I think in five years, airlines will be more data insights-driven e-commerce players. And to do that, they need to be pursuing three things. Focus is the first. Personalisation is key. And the third is data science capabilities to get the nuggets out of the vast information available in the travel industry.” The complete panel presentation is available online here.
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4. NDC is still going strong
The push to implement NDC continues to be a topic of interest for both airlines and OTAs. By creating a unified data transmission standard for airfares and other ancillary services, NDC strives to provide a transparent shopping experience for travellers, regardless of the distribution channel. As discussed in a recent PhocusWire article, Infare believes the opportunity lies in airlines taking control of the retail offering, not by channelling customers to book directly. With the implementation of new capabilities like NDC, airlines would be able to offer a consistent experience across all direct and non-direct channels.
NDC gives airlines the ability to distribute a more personalised experience to travellers in all channels. For example, the richness of the information (e.g., seating, baggage policies, meals) and content (e.g., images of seats) that airlines could distribute through NDC would help ensure each customer has an “apples to apples” view when comparing an airline’s offer to its competitors. Passengers would be able to see a detailed breakdown of the pricing of a flight, allowing them to precisely choose the fare class and ancillary services desired for each journey. This comprehensive airfare data would allow airlines to remain dynamic in their pricing across all channels by updating their offerings and fares instantly to provide travellers with the best “unbundled’ value for their specific needs.
The adoption of NDC, coupled with the growth of machine learning and AI, are key components in the industry-wide shift to a more data driven e-commerce mindset. According to Eisenaecher, “The art is to combine AI, machine learning and comprehensive airfare data to provide the best possible experience for customers across the entire journey, including selling at the right price. This power can only be harnessed if all players in the travel industry come together.”
What is next?
With another CAPA World Aviation Summit in the books, it is clear that technology and innovation will play a vital role in the evolving aviation industry. To learn more about what to expect this year – and beyond, we invite you to join Infare at an upcoming travel industry events to hear the latest on the intersection of technology and travel.
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