Ai Editorial: How to make data count?

First Published on 27th February, 2019

There are airlines that have embarked on the data-driven journey, and they are increasingly relying on the same to serve their passengers during various phases of their shopping and travel, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


Airlines are focusing on today’s digital economy, and an integral part of the same is being adept at managing and acting on data.

There are certain airlines that are on the right track, and there are those that seemingly grapple with basic issues. Those who have embarked on the journey and are garnering positive results refer to few critical aspects:

  • Drawing more value from data means taking care of several hurdles: data inaccessibility (owing to unstructured and semi-structured data), the quality of data, and the lack of skilled people to show the way and capitalize on it.  
  • In addition to working on an apt architecture to access data across siloes, it also important to look at existing marketing stack and leverage a customer data platform for all contextual business intelligence, recommends Boxever. 
  • Set up a cross-functional team. For instance, alignment between data engineers and scientists, and data-based customer teams such as user experience designers, marketers and product specialists.
  • Also, as IBM points out, put in place an analytics foundation to ensure compliance, security, and data quality, and focus on a data-driven culture.

Tangible results from data

There are airlines that have embarked on this journey, and they are continuously trying to serve their passengers during various phases of their shopping and travel. The likes of JetStar are blending real-time behavioural and the historical transactional data to act not only on past behaviour, but also evaluating possible purchasing pattern/ intent. The carrier is experimenting with datasets to predict intent to travel to destinations the airline flies to and have personalised marketing campaigns and website initiatives for each individual customer.

The meaningful use of data from various sources, including the 1st party ones, and contextual selling will open new possibilities that are currently unimagined, asserted Catriona Larritt, Jetstar Airways’ Chief Customer Officer in a recent interview with Ai. "That data and customer insights will lead to the development of new customer experiences, products and services that is more personalised and offered at the right time, on the right channel at the right price,” she said.  

The improvement comes from the fact that whenever a new data source is added to the strong foundation laid for data collection, ingestion, analytics etc., then it further improves upon the insights, recommendations etc. resulting from it. For instance, the gap as far as single view of the customer is concerned, lies in capturing emotional data or offline data. Once a way is found to capture such data, it will be added to the existing set up. 

Even as retailers are grappling and coming to terms with data privacy-related issues, if there is apt master data management, platform and architecture in place, then they can only improve upon this. For example, in case of airlines, the day of travel or the airport experience is where the consumption of the product commences in a tangible manner. There is interaction with the staff at the airport. This is where a passenger shares certain experiences or even the expectations of the journey. Now can this be captured? Yes. The technology is in place. There is an opportunity to avail a voice recognition tool to analyze and record a spoken conversation. This can be useful for airlines considering the typical fast-paced environment (marked by limited time period for each passenger) of an airport. Once airlines get closer to capturing emotional-data emanating from an offline environment, this means they can have better understanding of the travel cycle.

“We don’t capture conversations at the airport. Being clear with customers about what data is being collected is important,” shared an airline executive with Ai.

Once airlines get closer to capturing emotional-data emanating from an offline environment, this means they can have better understanding of the travel cycle since they already have an astute data strategy in place.


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