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Author: Mekala Avinash |05/12/18

Recent Digital Trends in the Airline Industry

Airline industry is swiftly advancing with the help of digital revolution.

Trend 1: Passenger Review System

Today, it is essential to enable customer ratings and reviews for a product in e-commerce, thus helping customers determine the quality of it. Same goes with any service. Ratings and reviews play a major role in determining the quality of service. It is even more important for a premium class service provider to enable review and rating system. Also, listening to the customer can help service providers reduce Service Gaps[1]. In recent time, airlines are partnering with third-party data providers to help customers know more about the quality of their upcoming flight.

Digital/social leaders like KLM share feedback collected from past passengers with potential customers. It facilitates passengers to view the reviews and ratings while they search for their flight. This way, higher fares can also be justified. This concept that was commonly seen in hospitality sector was later adopted by other industries and is known as ‘reputation pricing’.

Using ‘Rate My Flight’ option, passengers can rate and review their past flight experience and all the reviews for a particular flight get accommodated to form the overall rating and review of the flight.

Trend 2: IFE Flight Map

In-flight Entertainment (IFE)[1] was initially an entertainment tool offered to passengers during flight. It has now reshaped into a tool for organizing after-flight schedule. Using FlightPath3D, passengers are able to book an airport taxi via the IFE flight map.

In-Flight Travel Planner is the new way to help airlines tap into the ‘aircraft to door’ ancillary revenue opportunities. 3D moving maps (geotainment) are provided on the IFE systems used by airlines such as Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Finnair. Using this system, passengers can enter their home or hotel address into the moving map and know the estimated time of arrival at the destination airport. In-Flight Travel Planner can use historical or real-time traffic data and provide accurate time of arrival.

Airlines are now partnering with Uber and Super Shuttle[2] integrated with their IFE devices that allow passengers to view and book ground transportation options while they are flying. Upon booking their ride, passengers receive SMS to confirm their booking and pick-up location, giving them a personalized experience.

Trend 3: Digital Luggage Tag

Tracking missing baggage is a part of an airline’s day-to-day operations and involves effort. Establishing a robust system to manage missing baggage is a cost-heavy affair. According to SITA, 26 million[1] baggage go missing each year. Delta spends an average of 50 million dollars[2] every year to manage missing baggage. Using digital luggage tag can definitely help in managing missing baggage.

Lufthansa is the pioneer in using RIMOWA Electronic Tag[3]- a digital tag that enables integrated mobility solution for luggage which helps in tracking a bag efficiently. EVA Air is the first Asian airline to adopt the RIMOWA Electronic Tag. RIMOWA Electronic Tag suitcases an embedded digital bag tag in it, which can be updated by passengers using the airline’s app. Passengers can submit data from their smartphone to the RIMOWA Electronic Tag. It has an e-ink digital display which updates the same information that would otherwise appear on a paper bag tag. This has become the road to digitalization in travel industry.

Trend 4: Social Platforms to Create Brand Equity

A passenger in the current era is tech-savvy and social. Airlines have to build their social platforms to create brand equity. Many leading airlines are already indulging in innovative ways to engage with customers to build long lasting relationships with them. This helps the airlines enhance brand equity and understand the customer’s perspective.

Some airlines have taken a lead in engaging with customers on social media proactively, through innovative airline social media campaigns. For example, Virgin Atlantic's (VA) 'Looking for Linda'[1] was an interactive contest that got extensive consumer interaction and generated over 15,000 entries and 8,000 new users, in addition to successfully promoting travel destinations. KLM came up with 'Meet & Seat' service where passengers could select seats alongside fellow passengers based on their mutual interests. British Airways' Facebook application, 'Perfect Days', allows travelers to share a travel wish list and itinerary through Facebook.

Social media is the perfect platform for managing customer relationships and is an efficient tool to build a large and robust resource pool that can respond to customer queries, complaints, posts and tweets. Statistics convey that the world's leading airlines have 15,000 to 200,000 tweets and 60,000 to 1,000,000 Facebook fans[1] on an average. The numbers are expected to grow exponentially in the near future.

Trend 5: Analytics – An 'Altimeter' for the Airline Business

The airline industry essentially uses social media analytics, contact centers, speech analytics and revenue model analytics. Data generated from multiple sources has been increasing rapidly due to proliferation of channels. This huge pile of data gives vital information about passenger profiles, choices and preferences that can be leveraged by airlines to develop their services and product offerings. With analysis of historical data, airlines are planning customized solutions, predicting customer needs and preferences and are also effectively planning cross-selling and up-selling of additional products or services.

An altimeter measures the height of an aircraft above sea level which is a crucial piece of information for the aircraft to stay aloft. Analytics provides businesses with crucial insights and hence acts as an altimeter to grow the business.

Trend 6: Usage of Smartphones to take Business Class Passengers’ F&B Orders

We often see orders taken through digital devices in bars and restaurants, but now, the airline industry is adopting it too. Emirates, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America airlines allow passengers to place orders through their in-seat IFE devices. Emirates has also launched ‘Meal Ordering Device’ for its flight attendants who work in Business Class.

The meal ordering app[1] can be used on smartphones, where the devices are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of flight. The received orders are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley which is accessed by the cabin crew, making the service faster, efficient and more personal. Catering without slip-ups is certainly essential for business class travelers and frequent flyers.

Emirates has adopted ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’ (KIS)[2] system which stores the passenger information and develops insights about their food, drinks and seating preferences.

Trend 7: Use of Artificial Intelligence

  • Chatbots

A chatbot allows storage of all critical flight information in one place. Using chatbot through Facebook Messenger, passengers can access all their information, i.e., boarding pass, booking info and flight details, seamlessly at one place. Also, the chatbot is capable of rapidly answering questions about the flight, which makes the flight-booking process smoother.

A passenger can make edits to his/her trip easily using chatbot. If a passenger looks for a seat change or wants to place any other request related to booking, he/she can do it easily via the chatbot. After a request is confirmed, the updated ticket will be sent directly to the passenger through Messenger. Basically, the work of customer agent and communication through emails/ teletype addresses are streamlined into a single channel using chatbots. Both the airline and the passenger save time and money; and the airline delivers optimal flying experience to the passenger.[1]

Chatbots like ‘DoNotPay’[2] notify passengers about price changes and also negotiate with the airline using airline compliance laws. It actually books and holds the seat for a better price with its own money until the old seat is canceled.

  • Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology is used for customer identity verification, which makes passenger boarding process seamless and efficient in terms of security. KLM passengers now have their check-in all the way to boarding without a ticket, by making use of facial recognition. This can also be used to match passengers to their luggage through kiosks.[1]

Do you know of more ways in which digital trends can help the airline industry? Send an email to info@mindtree.com and let us know.


Reference -

[1] https://brainmates.com.au/brainrants/the-customer-service-gap-model/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-flight_entertainment
[3] http://www.airlinetrends.com/
[4] https://www.facefirst.com/blog/face-recognition-might-answer-lost-luggage/
[5] https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2016/08/31/delta-spending-bags-money-end-lost-luggage-problem
[6] http://www.airlinetrends.com/
[7] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/advertising-channels/mobile/virgin-atlantics-social-campaign/
[8] http://www.wns.com/insights/articles/articledetail/62/5-trends-for-the-global-airline-industry
[9] http://www.airlinetrends.com/
[10] http://www.airlinetrends.com/
[11] https://chatbotsmagazine.com/how-airlines-are-using-chatbots-to-take-their-service-to-a-higher-altitude-57d31e7ddd6b
[12] https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/13/17111486/robot-lawyer-airline-discounts-24-hour-rule-weather
[13] http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Airline-News/Biometrics-Facial-recognition-tech-coming-airport-near-you

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