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

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