Ai Editorial: Seamlessness in travel via marketing cloud, go for it

First published in 18th April, 2017

Ai Editorial: Failing to connect identities or being unable to understand context based on cross-channel behavior? You are probably missing out on delivering “seamlessness” i. e. a relevant offer or attending a query wherever, whenever, and whichever way the passenger prefers it, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta   

 

There are big gaps that exist today when we talk of experience optimization in the travel industry.

One can’t ignore the fact a traveller has numerous avenues to interact with an airline – it could be an interaction with the airline staff at the time of check-in, and then an interaction with a chatbot via Facebook Messenger before boarding the flight. And if these two interactions are about an enquiry for an in-flight offering, then how can airline respond to the sum of these interactions in the time left to board the flight or during the course of the flight? There are several possibilities:

·          The airline doesn’t initiate any conversation post two interactions. The passenger follows up with the airline – at the gate, or say in the aircraft with the air hostess.

·          The airline has means to follow-up, could be based on one interaction or ability to respond only via certain touchpoint. It could be automated (say a mobile app notification) or staff can service the request. But there could be a possibility that full information about all interactions isn’t in the picture even as you are being attended.

·          Airline has possibly all systems connected and capturing interactions. So if the airline is capable of managing streaming data and related data intelligence is passed on for a contextual interaction, across any touchpoint, during the course of the journey, then the passenger would have a seamless interaction. So even for the case above, the airline is capable of capturing the audio of the conversations and runs speech-to-text and tone analysis (doesn’t send any sensitive data to the cloud), and can categorize passenger as “happy”, “satisfied”, “annoyed” etc. for immediate or future interactions.

Seamlessness – it’s about the passenger

Seamlessness is what makes the journey enjoyable. And when any organization can understand the intent – be it for a click made on a digital platform or conversation a passenger had via any touchpoint – then only airline would be able to respond, and in doing so, delivering aptly during that moment catapults the performance of the brand.

Seamlessness would mean responding to move initiated by a traveller – could be the readiness to pay for a Wi-Fi package while interacting with a chatbot or looking at the picture of an in-flight meal on the airline app and paying it in the aircraft using a digital wallet. Further, in a proactive manner, even anticipating the same and coming up with a relevant offer wherever, whenever, and whichever way the passenger prefers it.

Key to seamlessness - marketing cloud

As much as airlines are being advised to focus on extracting data from their existing systems, and making the most of the same, time has come to look at every aspect of data, content, analytics, technology etc. to get closer to delivering a “seamless” experience.

In fact, airlines have to offer “value” via all touchpoints.

There are several aspects that come together to capitalize on every interaction.  

Every experience counts: Airlines need to ensure they are easy to deal with. At an enterprise level, there has to be the ability to scale up and deal with the unstructured nature of today’s passengers’ cross channel interactions. So even as a traveller is meandering between email, web, mobile apps etc., airlines, like most organizations in other businesses, struggle to avoid inevitable latency, not being able to deal with what customers are looking for.

Being data-driven: It is imperative for airlines to collect, store, analyse, and visualize big data on cloud. Data has to be reliable plus handling of data sets is also critical. In this context, data transformation is necessary to ensure data from one application or database is understandable to other applications and databases. Next up airlines can count on data to dynamically bundle and unbundle services and products to create a personalized offer for the passenger, be able to dynamically price that offer or offers specifically for that passenger, and present it through any sales channel that the passenger chooses. (Of course, processes in place today will not support the goal, at least not through every channel.  In order to achieve this level of personalization, every piece that goes into creating that offer must reside fully within the airline’s control every step of the way).

Understanding intent: In addition to connecting identities and behavior across different channels, specialists like IBM are capable of sharing “near real-time events” for a possible pertinent action.

Marketing automation: Software has made areas like campaign management easier and faster. How to go about managing numerous air and, non-air ancillary products that are to be offered over multiple channels in hundreds of campaigns to millions? Organizations need to act and showcase precise image or a video that travel shoppers require for their decision-making. So cloud-based automation can facilitate better marketing performance via efficient handling of email marketing, lead management, and mobile and social engagement. In doing so, airlines can streamline the workflow, social monitoring, content management etc. So it is worth assessing how cloud-based digital marketing is paving way for:

·          capturing right leads

·          personalised interactions in near real-time

·          working out relevant email content

·          interacting with on-the-go users, optimizing push notifications, app messages etc. and capitalizing on connected devices

As for mobile, managing communication isn’t just through text, push, and mobile web, but now mobile wallets, too, are there to be catered to. Accordingly, airlines have to configure and establish business rules for mobile marketing programs.

Automation alone isn’t sufficient, similarly, only cross-channel marketing or understanding of intent is enough. Everything needs to come together, and the prowess of a marketing cloud needs to fully leveraged to ensure every interaction is meaningful in terms of value offered, and it should result in seamlessness irrespective of the stage of the journey.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Boosting merchandising strategy via “streaming” data

First Published on 12th April, 2017

Ai Editorial: Can dynamic data, being generated on a continual basis, help in selling an air ancillary? Airlines need to delve deeper to handle such data, processing it on the fly, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

Acting on data the moment it is generated isn’t really new, but airlines, as an industry, haven’t seemingly made significant headway in this context.

Let’s first summarize the terminology that is being used in handling dynamic data being generated on a continual basis, be it for human-generated comment, photo etc. or machine-generated data in real-time. Real-time stream processing is all about an incidence or a number of events recorded in a collection of fields, then there is steady flow of data, and eventually the capability to evaluate the same.

Stream processing entails ingesting a series of data, and incrementally bringing up-to-date reports and statistics with arriving data record.

Airlines need to be spot on with their ability to handle real-time data integration and streaming analytics. They need to add context to streaming data - the result could be capitalizing on an up-sell opportunity, for instance, when a shopper is on airline.com. or even handling critical functions like fraud prevention, crisis management etc. Are carriers capable of responding to critical events in time, in-context, be it for improving upon the journey through customer service or even monetizing via selling of an ancillary? Not really.

“Events” - that aren’t mundane 

Seamlessness is what makes the journey easy and enjoyable. And when any organization can understand the intent – be it for a click made on a digital platform or conversation a passenger had via any touchpoint – then only airline would be able to respond, and in doing so, delivering aptly during that moment catapults the performance of the brand. But being data-driven doesn’t end here. More than predictable action (for instance, check-in or conversation at the airport counter), what is equally important is responding to an occurrence that can happen as per the discretion of the passenger, something that is tough to fathom.

Big data and analytics that come into play can be further explained in two components:

In an ideal world, all the customer-oriented systems that airlines operate need to be in sync. This would mean capturing all activities related to a passenger’s journey, right from the moment they made the booking till the point they give their feedback about how all of it went. The story that data can tell about a passenger shouldn’t be missed out on – one system might indicate that a family of three passengers booked their journey (so could capture information related to transaction etc.) plus there could be a repository of data about the same passenger that indicates what this passenger wrote about say on a social platform (a word of praise regarding the in-flight meal) etc.

·          If everything is streamlined, here analytics could be about working out predictive analytical models to discover travelling preferences, new patterns of interest etc., based on chronological/ past data, which can feature data collected from event streams as well as other stored information. So looking beyond the purchase funnel, how about coming up with actionable data related to what a passenger enquired about on the day of travel? Can this enquiry be turned into an offer at the time when the same passenger shops for the next flight?

·          A pertinent facet that can make or break the experience is about in-stream analytics i. e. acting on data as events are happening. For instance, last year, during one of my trips to Europe featuring a connecting flight (via SWISS and Lufthansa), there was a mistake on the part of SWISS when it came to allocation of the seat. Both the airlines acknowledged it via Twitter and ensured the matter would be prioritized at the boarding gate. And the staff at the gate had no clue even after exchanging of tweets with both the airlines spanning over two hours! Clearly airlines tend to miss out on data that is important. What’s the point in having resources meant to serve passengers or core product, air ancillary or non-air ancillary inventory – say a seat on an aircraft or in-flight meal – if that can’t be served or even sold when the passenger is willing to pay for it.

Preparing in an earnest manner

At a time when people, places and things are increasingly getting connected, airlines need to dig deep and focus on preparedness for event stream processing:

What would it take to connect, decode and comprehend streaming data? Enterprises won’t be able to live up to the expectations of travellers if they don’t act on streaming data from transactions, social feed, Internet of Things devices etc.  As Amazon explains, data needs to be processed “sequentially and incrementally on a record-by-record basis or over sliding time windows, and used for a wide variety of analytics including correlations, aggregations, filtering, and sampling”. Also, organizations start with collecting system logs and elementary processing, and eventually perform advanced data analysis such as ones featuring machine learning algorithms.

What’s the benchmark for response time? Airlines need to address issues related to managing massive volume of data and yet responding at lightning speed. If a traveller is indicating that he is willing to pay for access to lounge while being at the airport, but isn’t able to find the way out, then can the airline help him out? What if the traveller fails to reach, and ends up changing his decision?

How to act on apt data? It is imperative that airlines ascertain in real time what data is of value, and filter out the irrelevant data. The value of streaming data needs to be optimized in conjunction with traditional batch data, by combining legacy systems with new streaming platforms. Batch processing can be done to work out arbitrary queries over diverse sets of data, and scrutiny of big data sets. Airlines can assess the efficacy of a hybrid model, working out a real-time layer and a batch layer.

 

Are airlines capitalizing on dynamic data? Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Can airlines target personalization with existing processes?

First Published on 11th April, 2017

Ai Editorial: In order to deliver a personalized experience and add to the joy of flying with all the differentiated offerings that each carrier has worked out, airlines need to optimize offer and order management, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

Travel, as a product category, is exceptional in many ways, and the joy of flying is an integral part of it.

As much as flying is unique in terms of a product that is being consumed, airlines are being constantly challenged to overcome the commoditized way of displaying their offerings and also selling. And this criticism, to a large extent, is valid as a consumer really doesn’t care about differentiation between shopping experiences. Yes, buying a book on Amazon and its fulfilment is vastly different from finalizing an aisle seat, Chinese meal etc. on any travel e-commerce site. So airlines have to find answer – to deliver a personalised, contextual and seamless experience.

Role of NDC

So if we talk of retailing, can pre-set bundles really result in product differentiation? Not really, not in the long-term. Such offers can be replicated. Airlines have to look for the ability to personalise the bundles that are being offered, and to do the same dynamically.  It needs to be highlighted that technology not only needs to fall in place, but pricing and revenue management has a role to play as well. The blend of these components is what that going to make the difference. Also, in case of distribution, especially indirect channels, carriers can achieve process differentiation only when they are in control of how their supply is being distributed. Supply control is extremely important to deliver a consistent brand experience in a multi-channel environment. So the point is how to gain access to real-time data of passengers? Are airlines ready to reconcile data sources? How to access business intelligence anytime?

There is where standardization via an initiative like NDC comes into the picture.

The objective behind coming up with schemas is that there is a strategy in place, focused on overcoming commoditisation, protecting the brand and looking at velocity, agility and cost efficiency while running operations, then passengers can be communicated and serviced in real-time. And this is what NDC is trying to improve upon selling via indirect channels - product differentiation (main issue is rich content/ product description etc.), speed of time to market (any new product owned by an airline takes time to reach out to the indirect channel) and personalisation.

“The goal of offer personalization is the grand vision of the IATA New Distribution Capabilities (NDC) and One Order initiatives, which originated with the airlines themselves,” says Ryan Harris, Director - Americas, JR Technologies.

Processes in place today not enough

In order to truly reach this goal, an airline needs to be able to take all of the historical data that it has for an individual passenger and the passenger’s market segment, use that data to dynamically bundle and unbundle services and products to create a personalized offer for the passenger, be able to dynamically price that offer or offers specifically for that passenger, and present it through any sales channel that the passenger chooses, all within a respectable amount of time, which is a few seconds, not minutes, says Orlando, Florida-based Harris. 

With this vision, it becomes clear that the processes in place today will not support the goal, at least not through every channel.  In order to achieve this level of personalization, every piece that goes into creating that offer must reside fully within the airline’s control every step of the way. 

It also need to considered that most companies are taking the approach of building the digital world, along with the interfaces, passenger-facing systems, data collection, and data processing that come with it, on top of the legacy systems.  The reality is, there are just some things that the legacy systems cannot do because they were never designed to. 

As Harris also acknowledges, if there is a full reliance on those legacy systems for back-office processes such as revenue accounting, revenue management, interline ticketing, and pricing, among many other functions, there will be limitations to the capabilities possible through digital transformation.

So what need to be done?

Harris explained and shared what all needs to fall in place:

·          Supporting dynamically-created messages: There is a need to build a communications structure that will support dynamically-created messages that contain inconsistent, always changing data.  This is being achieved through the standardization of the IATA NDC XML schemas, which also can use standard internet connectivity that is typically much faster and more available than the leased-line, point-to-point connections used today.  The flexibility and openness of these message structures means that an airline can reach outside its own sales infrastructure with the same capabilities that it can do internally, such as through its e-commerce site.

·          Dedicated offer management system: Behind the communication structure, it means an airline must be able to create offers and then change the accepted offers into orders.  In concept, this means having a dedicated offer management system that can take all the data points, run them through analysis and business rules, check availability and applicability, bundle the offer items, calculate the pricing, and deliver it along with branding and rich media to the passenger.  There are several systems in the market that can do this today for an airline’s direct sales channels, such as e-commerce, but in the NDC world, you need to be able to reach all sales channels, direct and indirect, to offer the same services to the passenger through their preferred sales channel.

·          Order management system: Moving from the offer, it needs to transition into an order management system for fulfilment and accounting.  This is somewhat analogous to the concept of tickets and EMDs in the legacy, but in the Order structure, there are not the restrictions that are present with these electronic documents.  For example, looking within the framework of the offer, and thus the order as well, there are not requirements for a RBD, fare basis, issuance code, service category, or even a rule.  Those can be populated, which is useful for the transition period where the legacy ticketing and reservations systems need to remain, but they are optional, providing the flexibility within the design of the standard to allow airlines to sell whatever they want to sell.  This means that revenue management can be truly dynamic by determining an offer price based on business goals, unrestricted by available RBDs or filed fares.  Merchandizing becomes a core role of the airline, not just an ancillary function.  Travel changes and refundability can now be offered as dynamically offered ancillary products and be applied to any journey at a variable price, instead of having to rely on the filled fare rules.

Benefitting from One Order

Where things really get interesting in the distribution ecosystem of tomorrow is with the implementation of One Order as an industry standard, says Harris.

“Several airlines have been free from the constraints of the ticketing system for years by implementing ticketless reservation systems, so they are fully aware of the possibilities that can open, especially with third-party services and products that become distributable through those systems,” he says. 

One Order is, at its roots, an industry standard for migrating to ticketless environments and expanding the possibilities of merchandizing for the entire industry. 

“One of the major drawbacks for those airlines that chose to use ticketless systems has always been interline and codeshare distribution with most carriers that do have the traditional ticket-based systems.  This was usually either overcome by the introduction of a third-party ticketing system to facilitate the interline sales and accounting, or was limited to be a unilateral partnership where one party could sell flights on the other, but not the other way around,” Harris says.

By building on the Offer and Order Management systems, using NDC as the distribution protocol, and creating the One Order standard, airlines will be in a true position to innovate themselves and will have a much larger pool of APIs and third-party content providers to offer their customers the right travel offer at the right time at the right price, regardless if the customer is coming to the airline.

Airlines need to take action in order to be control of various stages of the travellers’ journey, and then only one can get closer to delivering personalization. And this will only lend a strong dimension to the joy of flying.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

 

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Role of APIs in today’s connected era – indispensable

First Published on 5th April, 2017

Ai Editorial: Airlines, as an industry, are gradually showing signs of being ready to what it takes to be agile, open and innovative. And APIs are playing a pivotal role in this, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta.

 

Connectivity in today’s “connected era” is what defines every passenger experience. And this means if enterprises can facilitate what it takes to deliver a relevant, contextual, seamless experience, buoyed by apt IT architecture, data management and API plan driving operations, then they are on the right track.

This way a passenger can presented with what they are looking for on their preferred platform, be it for a chatbot or completing a transaction outside non-airline environment.

In this context, the role of API is increasingly coming to the fore. APIs or application programming interfaces are key to pushing content and information across a variety of applications. APIs aren’t just restricted to the realm of developers and IT architects, they are entrenching themselves deep into various disciplines with an airline. Effort is being made to evaluate what does it take to create, secure, control, deploy, analyze, and manage enterprise-level APIs and services for internal or external consumption.

Here we assess a couple of areas where APIs are enabling change toward agility, openness and innovation:

·          There are several considerations that are driving the face of IT set up today. How to deal with production and consumption of digital services? How to connect an airline’s applications, data, and devices? How to unlock data from legacy systems? For such queries, APIs are the much-needed answer. Airlines are focusing on decentralised access to data and capabilities without any let up  on the governance front. Also, numerous layers are required in order to attain agility and flexibility. In this context, the first step is systems APIs (for accessing underlying systems of record), then process APIs (for management of non-central data, worked out mainly for processes in an airline) and another set of APIs (delivery of content, for consumption of content in a certain format customized for a particular device). Today carriers are reshaping the initiatives associated with PSSs. This is being worked out by designing of a middleware around offer management, order management and customer management. Right from managing bookings and reservations out of the airline reservation system without any 3rd party’s involvement to delivery of content to any channel, airlines are trying to be control of their offering. And APIs are an integral part of this move.

·          Being agile: How do companies like Amazon, Netflix etc. end up defining experiences around their offerings that end up being a benchmark for anyone in retailing or e-commerce? Experts refer to the prowess of microservice architecture, complemented by APIs. Such architecture supports agility for refining or introducing a new offering by supporting shorter build, test, and deploy cycles. Business processes and transactions are automated with the composition of microservices. IT can step up by re-wiring services into new compositions.  

·          As for planning and booking, airlines have been working on their APIs and offer a direct link into their host reservation system for flight search, booking and ticketing. According to IATA, any airline that deploys an NDC API to make its content available, or any agent or aggregator that uses these APIs to get that content, may apply for NDC certification. Any vendor that offers NDC products and services for airlines and travel agents can apply to be NDC-capable. (Also, NDC certification and NDC-capable statuses have three levels of attainment: Level 2 requires a more extensive use of the shopping/Offer management API, and Level 3 targets NDC end-to-end deployments.) Airlines like British Airways have been publically sharing the documentation for each API, letting developers access information related to flight offers, lowest monthly prices, flight status etc. It is being propagated that when all channels and touchpoints are going to be driven by a common set of single, industry standard API, the need to maintain multiple (channel-specific) connections would go obsolete.

Airlines are signing exclusive distribution deals, for dynamically created, personalized, and channel-specific offers under full airline control.

“All we need from airlines is an API that they deploy to us,” states Stéphane Pingaud. CEO of Berlin, Germany-based start-up flyiin, an API aggregator focused on initiating a new B2C marketplace. “We will connect the airlines to flyiin through this API, and work with the content we get through this API. Some airlines may distribute more content than others through these APIs. It is important to keep in mind that these APIs evolve and as they become more knowledgeable about their API-based distribution, the more sophisticated and rich these will get.” He added, “And yes, APIs are the delivery methods. Airlines must adjust their internal systems to make their API-based distribution as effective as possible. This includes integrating dynamic pricing and rich media distribution capabilities.”

Being ready

Airlines need to build, deploy, manage and upgrade APIs in a way that depicts uniformity.

Airlines acknowledge that service interfaces need to be customer-oriented rather than being system-centric, and also looking at container-based microservices model in order to scale aptly.

Proprietary APIs are being avoided as they tend to create “one-off” implementations that make repeatability more complex and therefore more expensive. Even standardized APIs are subject to implementation interpretation which we are already seeing with the NDC APIs.

Of course, carriers have to upgrade their internal systems to be able to support API-based distribution. And then, they must re-think their own organisation: a successful API-based distribution of their product will depend on their ability to bring various departments to work together on defining and implementing their API. This is not easy, especially in organisations such as airlines that are laden with complexities.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Video: Counting on unusual data for loyalty

First Published on 3rd April, 2017

 

Counting on unusual data for loyalty

 

Airlines are trying to dig deep to ascertain what a loyal member “looks like as a consumer”. This means airlines are ready to go beyond their own purchasing funnel. The U. S.-based airline, Allegiant, is a prime of example of this.

Allegiant’s relationship with their customers tends to be once-a-year when they take their vacation. The airline is keen on tracking the non-travel phase (51 weeks) as much as it can. Allegiant introduced its loyalty program in September last year. The plan is to assess the non-travel phase behavior and interweave this with the day-to-day lifestyle of travellers – gas stations, grocery stores etc., making Allegiant brand part of those transactions. “So as customers go about mundane transactions, they day-dream about their next travel and destination,” said Brian Davis, VP Marketing and Sales, Allegiant.

Data, from all sources including unusual datasets, and emanating insights is what one is after.

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

 

 

Ai Editorial: Seamlessness and relevance - what every interaction should reflect

First published on 23rd March, 2017

Ai Editorial: Airlines can attempt to serve passengers in two ways – pre-empt what a passenger might opt for or being ready for the next interaction after analyzing every digital click or interaction via all touchpoints, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta.

 

Making the most of every interaction is what every brand strives to achieve.

An airline may serve the passenger in an apt manner, say at the airport, but if, as an enterprise, there is no consistency in serving the traveller- say a question you have asked via Twitter after collecting your boarding pass and the staff at the gate isn’t aware of it - then it is bound to fall short in terms of seamlessness or relevance.

So connecting the dots between interactions so that it is available in the form of actionable data and blending it the context, location etc. in real-time is something that airlines need to target.

Why?

When the customer has means to ask a question related to their journey, then airlines better be prepared for it. It’s that simple.

In fact, optimization of every interaction is not just about travel. A customer is a part of new experiences that are all about seamlessness and relevance in every sphere of life. So when users are being served by a retail app or a cab hailing app the way they want, then why can’t the airline chosen responds in the same way.

Being prepared

What airlines can do can fall in two categories: proactive and reactive, and in both cases improving upon the functionalities of the touchpoints, including apps, and responding to a request, question etc. in the best possible manner.

- Improving every touchpoint in a proactive manner

Easier said than done, but airlines need to look at the way an app like Uber simplifies the choice of cars, the connection time to the next cab, helping one to visualize where the cab is on the map, the estimated price for the journey, one-click answer to having a conversation with the driver or no clicks at all for payments once you share the details.

The same way airlines can refine their own trip planning, post buying and the day of journey functionalities.

Relevant message/ communication: Digital enterprises are looking at data that tells about “now” or the moment in context. Companies like Amazon are improving upon their offering for mobile app analytics, and supporting real-time analytics. Such insights are helping organizations to target segments from a variety of different data sources, send targeted notifications with personalized messages etc. If an airline can understand the intent, they can send relevant messages. For instance, if a family is looking for a flight to Paris and searches for activity related to Disneyland, Roland Garros tennis etc., then how should airlines gear up for retargeting? Rather than displaying same ads on Facebook or any website, shouldn’t the airline send any useful content or offer around the activity searched for? Yes, if an experience is being “sold”, it would be much better. Since the current shopping cart and the path the customer took to get there can tell you far more about what they do next than any number of prior bookings, do work on new ways to be relevant with notifications, ads and messaging. Airlines can look at crafting a recommendation algorithm, encompassing various stages of travellers’ journey including real-time travel disruption management. Be it for accurately predicting hidden interests, evaluating minute behavioral changes or working out recommendations for various contexts, a proactive approach can assist travellers, and even step up revenue generation.

Analytics: Airlines need to observe the usage of their digital assets, and based on the past and real-time usage, one can come up with predictions about future events.

As SAS points out, predictive analytics and experience “has a lot in common”. In one of its white paper, SAS states, “While experience is important in dealing with uncertainty and should go hand in hand with predictive analytics, the statistical calculations that goes into predictive analytics – has two advantages: the amount of observations (data) that can go into the calculations to validate assumed relations or maybe even reveal hidden relations, and the statistical calculations offer an answer that is more likely to be bias-free – both in terms of the relationship, but also the individual prediction.”

- Keeping track of every interaction

What triggers a search or a question when a user interacts via any touchpoint needs to be captured and the sum of all interactions needs to be analyzed for the future.

There are certain experiences that are intrinsic to airlines as a product – for instance, seating in an aircraft. How would a family of four like to sit in an aircraft, which has either rows of two seats or three seats? Would they prefer to pay for certain seats? Airlines need to find ways to understanding the type of travel, what sort of features or services a traveller is seeking and accordingly, record their preferences. Now if a conversation takes place between passenger at the airport and the airline staff, then how about analyzing the same without any privacy issues? Today, as IBM asserts, technology is in place to “capture the audio of the conversations and run speech-to-text and tone analysis directly on the device, thus completely avoiding sending any sensitive data to the cloud”. Essentially what is being done is “tone analysis” and this can be equated with attributes like happiness, sadness or anger. Such insights can go a long way in coming up with a relevant recommendation when the passenger interacts or attempts a booking next time.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Recommending it right – can travel triumph in a battle of its own?

First published on 17th March, 2017

Ai Editorial: Airlines need to find ways to make luring recommendations despite the inherent complexities associated with a category like travel. Time for airlines to look beyond their role as a delivery service from point to point, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

The way we shop for non-travel products, say a book or a smartphone, invariably gets compared with shopping for an air ticket, hotel bookings, in-destination purchases etc.

The likes of Amazon and Netflix continue to be a benchmark for personalised recommendations for a vastly different sector like travel.

Is this comparison between retail and travel apt?

“Pure collaborative filtering made famous by Amazon will not work for travel products,” says a source. “For us, contextual cross-selling has been a key driver for ancillary product attachment for years.”

“Travel is about exploration, vastly different from retailing. Each of us can breathe travel in a peculiar way, probably unlike any other product. So recommendations can be refined, tailored to an extent, but can it be cracked 100%, a complex puzzle yet to be solved,” said another source, referring to the possibility of coming up with an equivalent of Amazon or Netflix in travel. “Of course, unlike aggregators, airlines, at least for air-related travel don’t offer options (flights from another airline) as of now. But certain carriers may broaden their product portfolio in the future!”  

Still, to an extent, comparison is justified as consumer wouldn’t differentiate experiences. Choices, convenience…all that makes shopping a breeze, consumers would expect that to happen with every transaction, be it as a retail shopper or a flyer.

Here we assess how airlines need to refine their own journey of coming up with apt recommendations:

·          Matching expectations arising from non-travel shopping environment: When Amazon, Netflix etc. come up with a recommendation (and that too, on a regular basis) that resonates with us; it builds affiliation with the interface/ app as well as the brand. In fact, the association with these companies (a majority of these not even own the products they sell) is strong owing to the choices they offer us, the way they are offered, the way our activity is remembered, frictionless transactions etc. The Amazon app or Uber app always remains at the top of consideration set.

Of course, travel as a product category is different. But it does put the onus on travel technology, product as well as marketing professionals to come together to refine and deliver a relevant recommendation to brighten up the chances of a conversion. Attaining such level of expertise would mean acting on data – own data, 3rd party data/ external data such as weather, social, media consumption etc. Not only this integration is must, but also what is done in terms of predictive analytics, pattern recognition etc. needs to be relevant. Hopefully the emerging crop of travel flight search start-ups would lend a new dimension. The idea of finding your next destination or journey is luring, but when I see a mail or notification enticing me to take a trip to a destination  that I neither searched for nor matches my “activity” it is neglected straightaway.

·          Being where a recommendation is valuable: How to be a part of a digital environment, be it for an ecosystem (say Tencent or Google) or on a specific messaging/ social networking platform, where users spend their time, their decisions get influenced etc. is what airlines have to capitalize on. Traffic generation has never been a forte of airlines, so they need to be proactive enough to make a recommendation where audience is. For instance, if a couple is interacting via Facebook Messenger or Skype or Whatsapp, and are zeroing on a destination, can they book their air ticket or accommodation within that interface? Can a relevant recommendation from airlines at an opportune time facilitate a transaction?

Airlines definitely need to come up with a robust API strategy, rather than letting the likes of travel meta-search engines to capitalize on traffic resulting from Facebook, Alibaba, Tencent, Apple etc. via integrations and “connectivity” to pave way for recommendations of the product actually owned by them. (Meta-search engines have been moving even further up the funnel via native app features such as traveller inspiration timeline and push notification of travel ideas. They even provide APIs in addition to widgets and white labels to power travel search). So airlines, too, can take such collaborative approach via APIs and work with custodians of traffic. What if a meta-search engine provides FFP of a traveller with a particular airline, can this airline come up with a real-time recommendation at the time when this traveller is on the meta-search platform?

·          Recommendations that aren’t about past but “now” too: Using semantic analysis and pattern recognition for driving repeat buying, or automating cross-selling isn’t new. But there is scope for improvement in areas like quality of recommendations provided data ingestion layer is robust. Airlines need to focus a meticulous data management plan i. e. collect, store, process, analyze, and visualize big data on cloud, and look at data that tells about “now” or the moment in context. In fact, the current shopping cart and the path the customer took to get there can tell you far more about what they do next than any number of prior bookings. With such plan in place, airlines can look at crafting a recommendation algorithm, encompassing various stages of travellers’ journey including real-time travel disruption management. Be it for accurately predicting hidden interests, evaluating minute behavioral changes or working out recommendations for various contexts, airlines have to capitalize on artificial intelligence and machine learning.  Quality of recommendations have gone up, too, avoiding erroneous attribution and refraining from displaying recommendations repeatedly.  

·          Smart recommendations with no heavy “background” analysis: Detailed profiling is without doubt a weapon in the arsenal, but what if there is some quick, light analysis “on-the-fly” that can delight a traveller. Say a traveller is watching a movie in-flight, how about coming up with a notification for buying merchandize, tours and activity-related buy or even exploring a new destination? Marketing technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and new possibilities are always exciting. Today an airline can bank on a recommendation emanating from a location recommendation engine, which is backed by a matching algorithm built upon geo-data-mining and machine learning processes. So say one arrives on airline.com, is asked few questions about interests/ preferences for that particular trip, and is recommended few destination options with authentic content and itinerary. Such location matching in the form a viable recommendation opens up a plethora of option, including monetisation via ancillary offerings.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

 

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: 5 ways how analytics can step up customer-centricity

First Published on 6th March, 2017

Ai Editorial: Be it for extracting data from airlines’ existing digital assets, all touchpoints or realizing the full potential of IoT, without a competent analytics layer, airlines would continue to struggle to attain customer-centricity, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

With more and more channels, systems and technologies to explore, the role of analytics is evolving in several ways – organizationally and technically. Even from the infrastructure perspective, things aren’t the same. Tracking and measuring results isn’t new, but it is not easy to keep pace with in today’s complicated digital landscape.

Here we explore how airlines can gear up for the new world of analytics:

1.    Making the most of analytics dashboard: It is time airlines go for a platform where relevant data is centralized, structured and connected. Such set up should facilitate data integration, the result of which would be enabling all systems work in unison. Data keeps on growing in every organization, if it ends in silos, then one will always struggle to attain customer centricity. Airlines should manage data at an enterprise-wide level. Ultimately, the goal is to capture all guest interactions and preferences. From coping up with the issue of data in silos to getting closer to predictive intelligence, revenue optimization etc. – the vision is to making every touchpoint an asset, deliver precise passenger communication etc. Such analytics platforms provide real-time updates – enterprise-level information, funnel analytics, in-app analytics etc.

Also, it needs to be highlighted that the look of dashboards has evolved from mere analytics around attribution or web and mobile analytics to being a marketing platform. They feature analytics and information about the user, their profile, their experience (tracking devices used by one person, details related to interactions across touchpoints) etc.

Also, aspects related to security, scalability and data ownership of such platforms paving way for an organization to gain control are of paramount importance.

2.    Making analytics a part of an enterprise’s culture: Growth hacking is generally associated with start-ups, but it is being asserted that the success garnered from a strategy (that results from expertise that is partly marketing, partly product development, partly engineering) can be integrated into long-term plans, too. With a robust dashboard, various departments can evaluate how one initiative is working across the organization. Metrics can be evaluated at a more granular level, for instance, breaking down a campaign by channel, device etc. This cross-department or cross-functional view is healthy.

Paul Byrne, senior vice president of development at OpenJaw Technologies, as shared in one of our earlier articles, says in order to be data-driven airlines can start with a “lean experimentation approach”. He recommended that airlines can identify some of the low hanging fruits (short term goals). “Digital marketing and operation teams are key contributors at this stage. Identify and outline what you want to know from the data and to do what? Now identify the data sources needed to answer your queries and start aggregating / massaging the data sets,” Byrne suggested. A strong collaboration is needed between strategy, marketing, operations, analytics and IT teams for this to be successful.

From a specialist’s perspective, mixpanel, in its new eBook, “Decentralizing data and the future of analytics”, highlighted that if the first step of building a data for the entire organization is getting everyone to commit to metrics, from there on the focus should be on showcasing how seamless analytics can be and galvanizing data consumers.  Some other recommendations – no harm in getting a little messy and analyzing data adjacent to your projects, enable “non-technical employees to own the metrics around their own projects”, and focus on “customer’s experience, and which data sources, however unconventional, can improve it”.

3.    Make data-driven decisions based on analytics: Airlines need to run their digital assets, improve upon on them, keep track of revenue resulting from them etc. But all of this can be fruitful if the decision-making is data-driven. For example, by evaluating performance of an app - new vs. returning users, app revenue, user retention, and custom in-app behavior events etc. airlines can assess usage and revenue. If an airline is sending targeted push notifications, how does a traveller respond?  How analytics around app usage trends and user behavior increase message relevance and effectiveness?

Companies like Amazon are improving upon their offering for mobile app analytics, and supporting real-time analytics. Such insights are helping organizations to target segments from a variety of different data sources, send targeted notifications with personalized messages etc. Can a passenger be sent a notification at a time defined by the airline? Yes. So for instance, if a user interacts with an airline chatbot, and it turns out that this user has the tendency to ask for what’s going to be served during the flight? Can this user be shown relevant image as a push notification at an appropriate time (on the day of travel or at the airport)? Possibly yes.  

4.    Approach towards analytics: It is imperative for airlines to work out the best approach – work on analytics internally or buy one. Of course, one of the key aspects is investment that would be required to set up the requisite infrastructure internally. The project timeline, resources required including engineers and data scientists, monetary investment etc. need to be evaluated diligently.

mixpanel, in its study for product analytics solution for an enterprise, shared that the related costs of an internal build can be categorized into 3 parts - an initial cost outlay, maintenance costs (web services required for ingesting and storing user actions, plus the computational cost for each time an organization queries the set of data) and the cost for a visualization tool on top of the infrastructure. The study underlines that considering the 5-year cost of building, running, and maintaining an internal tool, organizations tracking 500 million to 10 billion annual user actions will save between $570K and $5.2M with a robust, customizable product analytics solution from 3rd party specialists.

So airlines need to look at accessibility, cost-effectiveness, speed, and customization before arriving at a decision.

 

 

5.    Gearing up for now and the future: The pace with which the Internet of Things is evolving means the need to analyze streaming data on an ongoing basis is staring at entities. Also, airlines can benefit from edge computing as of today.

Why this is important for airlines? If we understand from a scenario – say a conversation taking place between passenger at the airport and the airline staff, then how about analyzing the same without any privacy issues? Today, as IBM asserts, technology is in place to “capture the audio of the conversations and run speech-to-text and tone analysis directly on the device, thus completely avoiding sending any sensitive data to the cloud”. Essentially what is being done is “tone analysis” and this can be equated with attributes like happiness, sadness or anger.

Cisco estimates 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020 and 500 billion devices by 2030.

Since IoT devices typically send more data than the average technical product, this means such data has to be processed and analyzed in real-time. This is challenging as handling this volume of data is complex. Rather than relying on traditional computing models, the industry has already moved analyzing data at the edge of the network - means analysis and response has moved close to the devices generating the data cut down on latency and reducing the load on the network and the enterprise data centre.

There is a need to assess what sort of infrastructure is required so that it can ingest IoT data. And this includes incidental data that comes along with IoT.

In this context, specialists like mixpanel aptly underline that analytics isn’t just about humans deriving insights. It’s also the competency by which machines will make decisions!

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Airline merchandising and mobile – 8 areas to look at

First published on 2nd March, 2017

Ai Editorial: Selling core products, air- and non-ancillaries via mobile to a leisure traveller is one proposition that demands constant improvement, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

Merchandising via mobile is an attractive opportunity, and airlines fittingly are looking at several areas – their IT infrastructure, data and analytics, fulfilment, facilitating payments via mobile etc. – to ensure progress is being made.

Here we look at 8 areas that need to be dwelled upon to step up ancillary revenue generation and overall merchandising strategy via mobile:

1.    What makes mobile stronger than ever before? The prowess of mobile lies in its ever-present quality. So as precision of location data goes up, airlines should also “contextualise” their marketing efforts better. It is being highlighted that the number of beacons and sensors has risen considerably. And with better data quality, the game isn’t just about location anymore, but rather there is an opportunity to refine travellers' profiles and demographics based on emerging accurate, real-time data. Airlines can look at the airport environment and push ancillaries. Of course, other areas of merchandising do come into play as well – preparedness for personalised offers, sales offers, seamless transactions, ancillary partnerships etc. For instance, today I can be offered a latte at Starbucks via an attractive coupon based on previous purchase history and proximity. But with more data available, it is time for airlines to get creative, target even better experiences and as result higher ancillary revenue generation.

2.    Improving upon the journey of the traveller: It can be frustrating to queue up at the airport or looking for directions to the gate from another terminal. Airlines have to look at the overall journey, right from booking to pre-book phase to day of travel to the airport environment to in-flight to arrival. As stickiness of an airline app increases, the chances are travellers would be receptive to messages, notifications and even browsing for products/ offers on their own. Airlines have to evaluate new developments around mobile that can make the journey a pleasant one. For instance, IoT can connect a passenger’s baggage to his/ her mobile device for real-time tracking and updates. It can create verified IDs from distributed documents, speeding the process of passing through security, customs or boarding a plane. It can be used to provide real-time alerts about flight changes, status updates or emergency notifications. The potential of IoT commerce, however, requires airlines to embrace mobility, connectivity and IoT thought processes and strategies now.

3.    Dig deeper into funnel analysis: Passengers are willing to pay for extras that add value to their itinerary. For this, the mobile booking funnel analysis needs to be spot on, taking care of distractions, friction points or non-converting data, checkout effectiveness via testing.

In fact, funnel analysis can be an important weapon in assessing where shoppers are dropping out of the onboarding flow or how they end up completing a transaction after adding an item to their cart– this way airlines can gear up for a-la-carte sales or branded fares. This is vital as airlines need to find a balance between offering choice and how to sell them via mobile. For example, if the deal is too cluttered or the display isn’t simple enough to understand, then conversion won’t take place. Doing too much, say too many bullet points or offerings too many options, especially on a mobile device, can be a major hindrance in shopping.  So typically in funnel analysis, the series of steps leading to a transaction might look like search – view flight - add to cart –add a hotel to the cart - checkout - enter payment information and flight shopping is done.  

4.    Mobile experience: Speed is one factor that can make or break an experience. Airlines like Virgin America have relied on one simple call to action that are booking flights.

Among other issues, the mentality of offering the “lowest common denominator experience” needs to be done away with.

For instance, in case of responsive web design, it is being underlined that it has touched its saturation point. Even though it is apt for layout management and discovering distinct devices, there is a need to look at adaptive technique as well, delivering app-like sites. This way airlines can optimize experiences for mobile web – delivering web push notifications and app-style web payments.

Also, airlines need to build on the momentum of conversational commerce, and capitalize on it via mobile. Such trends can’t be ignored, as the blend of millennials and mobile is forcing evolution in consumerism and workplaces, both undergoing societal and technological transformation. At the same time a thorough study of what millennials expect is required as technology only facilitates the life they want to lead. “Millenials seek convenience, seek to belong and co-create, for them it’s about creating stories around travel, and being part of an authentic experience. Airlines need to recognize this and serve their mentality,” LikeWhere’s founder Simon Dempsey told me in an interview late last year.

Also, content needs to gear up for mobile-first approach, artificial intelligence etc. 

5.    Personalisation: Data analytics is critical in coming up with personalized offers throughout the travel process.  Without knowing what a passenger has shopped before, it is tough to fathom what they might want in the future. So the basic foundation is laid when a robust data strategy is in place, otherwise growing data will end in silos, and one will always struggle to attain customer centricity. Efficient digital organizations are looking to collect, store, process, analyze, and visualize big data on cloud. As more a traveller feels that their experience has been tailored for them, and the more relevant recommendations are to them, the more likely they are to engage.

Those airlines that aren’t ready to count on data, analytics and cloud are definitely missing out on shaping up their mobile personalisation efforts as studies have indicated that more than 70% of travellers share location and personal data for personalised services, and have indicated that context-aware promotion could persuade them to make a purchase.

Once airlines manage to clear the hurdle of inter-operability i. e. sharing of data from disparate sources, then they can get closer to serving offers/ recommendations as per travellers’ preferences.  

6.    Non-air ancillaries: In addition to flights, airlines need to gain access to inventory from hotels, car rentals, insurance and activities etc., either as standalone products or bundled packages. And as part of their offering or under their own brand. Airlines need to work on flexible web and mobile front-end, and also a single, standardized set of XML messages that cater to all channels.

Airlines are increasingly opting to control their own merchandising, e-commerce and API technologies. The focus is on using platforms that enable airline control, faster speed to market, and flexibility – and drifting away from solutions that are hard coded or community-model based, or tied to a particular PSS or channel. (Read about NDC XML APIs vs proprietary APIs).

7.    Payment and fraud related to mobile: In-app purchases and one-click ordering are a norm now. Shopping is all about toward convenience, simplicity, and speed. Airlines need to look at a couple of areas – streamlining process for transactions, fulfilment and transfer of funds and as well being prepared for fraud. One has to move in a swift manner as IoT thinking and increasingly smartphones are leading to more sophisticated digital wallets and mobile payments – which will lead to personalised mobile wallets or payment technologies with predictive capabilities built in.

Airlines need to support popular wallets and payment apps. Considering that every payment method has its own underlying technology and every mobile device has its own operating system, airlines need to take control of their payment ecosystem by owning their own payments layer that can deal with the fragmentation. The best plan is to adopt technology that is modular in nature and can work as a stand-alone solution with scale and scope. However, airlines also need to be careful as all new payment options may not pay off in travel commerce.   

Mobile fraud is complicated for airlines just like any digital business as transactions that are made through mobiles collect less information than web transactions, and therefore look much more similar. It isn’t easy to  differentiate between the real or fraudulent orders. As a result, higher costs are incurred, which includes the greater chargeback rates, lengthier time for manual reviews and bad service rendered to users. Airlines need to look at ways to authenticate users, relying on signals to add to the fraud prevention mix, like mobile carrier, precise geo-location and biometric behavior. There is also a need to make use of low-friction authentication steps that are made for mobile, like fingerprint scanning technology, SMS verification codes etc.

8.    Attribution: As Google recommends, even if the transaction didn’t materialize on a mobile device, “that doesn’t mean mobile didn’t play a role”. Airlines, like other businesses, need to assess the ways travellers are using mobile to connect with a brand. So in this context it is vital for brands to match a user’s engagement to actions across multiple devices. Of course, what works on a PC site may not work on an app, so sewing engagement via relevant metrics would be the key.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

 

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Ai Editorial: Quest for control set to take merchandising to another level

First Published on 21st February, 2017

Ai Editorial: Dealing with highly integrated processes meant for inventory, distribution and sales isn’t easy for airlines. But if one persists and decides to rework on IT  infrastructure, commercial strategy, data integration etc., then it can yield better results for merchandising, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

 

Inclusion of air- and non-air ancillary services into an airline’s commercial strategy is on the rise, and so is the need for better cross-platform experiences and integrating data across channels, complete pricing and shopping and merchandising solutions that focus on revenue grow on demand, dynamic pricing and personalisation and is platform agnostic.

All of this if done in a meticulous way can also pave way for customer-centricity, and control over what to be offered to a traveller, the way its shown, on which channel etc.

Quest for control also indicates that merchandising-related initiatives are undergoing change – for instance, if on one hand new non-GDS interfaces are being developed, on the other the introduction of air ancillaries features GDS prominently in the mix.

We look at areas that indicate airlines are making progress with their merchandising strategy:

·          Every offer to depict “value”: Airlines acknowledge the need to react quickly and adjust pricing dynamically, in a flexible way according to rise or fall in demand. Of course, a major concern here is to manage price sensitive customers. In this context, dynamic bundling and cross-selling become significant - including personalized pricing and up-selling. This refers to creation of sales offers based on demand.

As Vayant’s CEO Eric Dumas indicates, airlines need to focus on technology for optional services and branded fares management, once they are filed and distributed. He says airlines can choose to unbundle sales of seats, meals, baggage, class upgrades, lounge access and more, charge different prices or create separate offers to different consumer segments. Or they can blend all elements together in order to create a vast volume of unique, personalized sales offers with the accuracy relying on real-time data. This way airlines can manage their pricing (raise it or bring it down), but by adding an extra value or services to the package airline is making its customers feel valued.

·          Sharing inventory and content in “non-traditional ways: Airlines are looking at several approaches for direct connections. The objective is here to capitalize on additional content that could not be displayed previously. Also, another major consideration is offering additional services at relatively lower cost than before. As indicated by NDC projects, airlines can selectively craft offers/ bundles for routes as chosen, being in control of merchandising. Also, another highlight is differentiation coming in via elaborate content depicting what the product/ service is all about. As we have witnessed, airlines have been working on their IT set up to ensure they put their sales and distribution in other baskets rather than only one. For instance, a new non-GDS interface in case of Lufthansa’s deal with Siemens and Volkswagen  (Amadeus Cytric bypasses Amadeus GDS to hook into Amadeus Altea).

·          Offering value to intermediaries: Airlines can scale up their direct connect IT set up and own rule-based merchandising engine to maximize their distribution strategy. Of course, there can be channel-specific or partner-specific hurdles, but as indicated by NDC pilots/ projects, all of this can be sorted. Also, a major highlight of such arrangement is: an airline working on special bundles that can be sold via intermediaries’ platform. This can be tailored for one intermediary, too. For instance, a tour operator or an OTA can exclusively offer lounge voucher or avail complementary additional luggage option. 

·          GDS continues to be an integral part of distribution mix: In a recent article posted by Airline Weekly, Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines mentioned: “…As for 3rd parties, I am all in favour of our third parties being able to sell ancillaries.” He said this isn’t an avenue to push direct sales, rather he asserted that customers should be “able to shop where it’s most convenient for them. I want it to be cost efficient, but I also want them to have full access to all of our products”. Amadeus is allowing airlines, such as Etihad Airways, to display images of  product and ancillary services, such as exit row seating. Sabre asserts that the group makes ancillary and branded fare content available through all points of sale that they develop. In an interview with Ai around mid-2016, Sabre mentioned that 72% of bookable air content in Sabre offers an ancillary and/or branded fare.

·          Facilitating sales via APIs: Today airlines have worked on their API gateway, publishing end-to-end PSS API in public domain. APIs are available for flight and fare availability, ticket issuance, payment etc. Airlines are making standardized data available to developers, allowing them to use the interface to integrate direct booking links for offers from the airline into their web- and app-based offers.

Sabre also says an advanced level of merchandising capability is also built into APIs, which are used by developers to build or update a customized booking applications for their websites or to use Sabre content within another application.

·          Capitalising on intelligence in real-time: As airlines focus on NDC systems, there would be provision for XML analytics that is tied in to the NDC API. The objective is to gain an insight into operational performance of web services and XML APIs coupled with real-time intelligence that the XML message flow contains. Right from merchandising solution to real-time PSS data reliable interfacing to the external contemporary system where the proper data aggregation could be maintained to API strategy to harnessing the intelligence embedded in the rich NDC-schema compliant XML message streams, airlines need to prepare in a diligent manner.

The pace of change might be slow, the number of airlines going about refining their merchandising strategy might be low, but it is a positive sign considering prevalent highly integrated processes, and change doesn’t come easy to this industry.

 

Gain an insight into intriguing issues at Ai’s 11th edition of Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Spain this year. 

Date: 25 Apr 2017 - 27 Apr 2017; Location: Mallorca, Spain 

For more info, click here

 

Follow Ai on Twitter: @Ai_Connects_Us

Editorials

  • Ai Editorial: From being NDC-ready to implementing it - how IATA is focusing on it? +

    First Published on 7th December, 2018 Ai Editorial: IATA has been evaluating the performance of NDC - what is missing to attain 20% sales-target that is going to be powered by Read More
  • Ai Editorial: Why even one data breach today is enough to shake a consumer? +

    First Published on 4th December, 2018 Imagine receiving an email early in the morning, stating that your personal data has “possibly” been compromised. It’s disturbing. But the agony doesn’t end Read More
  • Ai Editorial: How to prevent “Starwood guest database breach” -like incidents? +

    First Published on 3rd December, 2018 Ai Editorial: One question that organizations need to dig deep into is – how to go for end-to-end protection for the sensitive data an Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5