How do you connect with the connected customer?

3 minute read 25 Jul 2019

Today’s tech-savvy airline customers expect more than just traveler-centric offerings, they want tailored interactions.

When going digital, the sky is the limit. Therefore, it is not surprising that the growing digital mindset of travelers has had far-reaching implications even on the airline industry, with increased disruption due to demands for traveler-centric services and new modes of mobility.

Customer behavior

73%

prefer to receive real-time information about baggage and other travel elements via mobile device. (1)

This growing tech-savvy mindset of travelers is expected to have far-reaching implications on the airline industry:

  • Digital customer engagement is gaining strength as a key differentiating factor across all industries, including airlines.
  • Airlines have access to vast reserves of passenger data, and adoption of the latest digital capabilities will enable airlines to develop data-driven insights.
  • Digitization will help the industry prioritize customer-centric services throughout the travel life cycle.
  • With increased data analytical capabilities, airlines can develop market intelligence to maximize ancillary revenue streams.

As mobile technology is becoming an indispensable part of the travel experience, it is important that airlines accept it as a core travel essential, rather than a supplementary device, to provide optimum customer experience.

Customer behavior

43%

preferred to use a travel agency, travel management company or corporate travel department to book their flights in 2018. (2)

Getting hyper-personal with the customer

Customers now expect not just end-to-end traveler-centric offerings, but tailored interactions — for instance, demographic-based flight offers and feasible travel time — at every touchpoint. Airlines now need to cater to each individual in every demographic. And there are two ways to achieve this objective:

  • Prioritize analytics and data-driven insights to offer bespoke services through their direct booking channels
  • Leverage online travel agency (OTA) channels through the development and support of new distribution capabilities (NDC) to expand ancillary product offerings

Companies need to come up with strategies to interact with their customers before, after and during the entire travel experience. However, they must move fast. New entrants are coming up with delivery platforms to create significant disruption in several industries — particularly in hospitality and transportation. The airline industry requires a fast solution and advanced technologies could help them reach it.

Customer behavior

65%

were willing to share additional personal data for a seamless journey. (3)

Customer engagement through customization

Advanced technologies, such as robotics and automation, virtual reality (VR), blockchain and cognitive intelligence are expected to revolutionize and hyper-personalize customer engagement in the airline industry. With increased data analytical capabilities, companies could provide smart customer experiences to build deeper relationships with their passengers right from the start of their journeys.

Airlines can provide travelers with options for virtual booking from any device, where artificial intelligence would manage the customer service. Customers would also prefer applications for departure reminders, real-time flight status and traffic update en-route to the airport. Autonomous bag-drop units can enable seamless baggage handling and reduced check-in queues. At this stage, biometrics, facial recognition systems and in-wallet document scanning helps easy and accurate verification.

Mobile integration, live content streaming and VR can be used to personalize in-flight infotainment for passengers. In-flight seat-back immigration using biometrics during fly time and automated gate pass equipped with facial recognition technology during immigration are other services that could be considered.

Track-and-trace solutions, such as radio frequency identification, for real-time baggage tracking could prevent passenger baggage loss at the end of the journey. Finally, airlines could build loyalty by letting passengers redeem their cumulated points across multiple platforms and tokenization of points as virtual currency.

Finding digital success in a turbulent marketplace

Airlines need to adopt a core digital foundation providing smart experiences based on three key attributes — personalization, predictive and adaptive. This strategy would offer heightened expectations, atomized experiences, value exchange and brand promise to the customers. It would help them transform transactional associations with their passengers into a long-term relationship development and customer engagement channel, resulting in increased revenue and a long sustainable future.

  • Show article references

    1. “Passengers Want More Information, Automation, Control & Privacy but Human Touch Still Important,” International Air Transport Association, 2018, © 2018 International Air Transport Association.
    2. “Passengers Want More Information, Automation, Control & Privacy but Human Touch Still Important,” International Air Transport Association, 2018, © 2018 International Air Transport Association.
    3. Global Passenger Survey 2018,” International Air Transport Association, 2018, © 2018 International Air Transport Association.

Summary

Airlines face disruption from their customers’ increased dependence on mobile devices and heightened demand for tailored interactions throughout the travel lifecycle. With access to vast reserves of passenger data, the industry should look to adopt increased digital capabilities and develop data-driven insights for personalizing the passenger experience. By staying better-connected with the connected customer, airlines can once again cultivate loyalty and find new ways to maximize ancillary revenue.

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