Airlines want to become better retailers and travel brands – that much was clear to the Guestlogix team attending this year’s Mega Event in Long Beach. Back in the office, we all had the same burning question: Haven’t we been hearing and saying the same thing about airlines for the last decade? Or are things finally progressing beyond the buzzwords and conference tracks, to actually changing how airlines do business with travelers today?
I think so, as evidenced by the new technology startups and entrepreneurs at the conference, and the new travel technology platforms (including our own, ahem) helping airlines make business more “personal” for the customer. But overall, the pace of change in the airline industry is still sluggish. I’d love to figure out how can we move from just talking about ideas and “how it could be” to “how we are actually doing bold things” and making a tangible impact on how people experience travel.
Our team agreed: change starts with connecting the many disparate experiences across the entire journey and helping travelers – i.e., your customers – experience the world stress-free, with the help of their mobile devices. And that’s what drove Guestlogix to build the Travel Experience platform.
What We Saw and Heard at Mega Event 2018
A couple of themes at the conference stood out and summed up the “mood” of the industry and mindset of many of the airline decision makers…
- Digital is great, but how do you take control? Airlines all have their own websites and apps, but there’s a whole travel ecosystem out there. Why aren’t carriers better connected to these new revenue streams? I think the first step to solving fragmentation is for airlines to work together with other travel companies, around technology that travelers already know and use – i.e., their mobile devices. Ursula Silling from Do Things Differently presented at the conference on best practices and key technologies for travel retailing. Yes, there are many, but I think we can all agree that it starts with airlines taking “ownership” of their customer data and direct/mobile channels. You can’t change what you don’t control.
- What about the traveler, can things be different for them? Less stressful, less complicated, more seamless? That’s the ultimate goal, or should be. Another panel at Mega Event explored ‘Winning the Engagement War and Building the Brand of the Future’ through ancillaries. That’s a long-term vision, of course – even if it’s not fully realizable right away, new concepts like relationship management, personalization and experience curation are ways of thinking about ancillary revenue, and are driving airline technology investments well into the future.
- Content is king and customer data is the key. It’s all about curating and personalizing content in the direct/mobile channel. Marc Rosenberg from Strataconnex moderated a panel with Jetstar Group, Affirm, Onvoya, and Travaplan asking a key question: Can existing airline platforms and processes support more sophisticated cross-selling and up-selling? In most cases, no. Travelers are looking for the one app that finally brings everything together in a seamless way. Airlines obviously don’t have that one app travelers are looking for, but with new travel technology partners like us, airlines are starting to move in that direction (learn more about our traveler and employee app).
Although many other conversations took place, the above reflect those we’ve had with many airlines, with a mutual frustration about the slow pace of change. Isn’t it time to put all those great ideas into action? Airlines need ancillary revenue and travelers need better tools to experience the world stress-free.
Let’s solve both problems at once.
Are you on a quest to find new technology solutions that can drive revenue, satisfaction and loyalty? Learn more about our Travel Experience platform. While you’re exploring, you might also be interested in these musings from our visit to the Future Travel Experience conference earlier in the year.