Data revo­lu­tion for air­lines

Ma­her Koubaa, Vice Pres­i­dent—Air­lines MEA, be­lieves that air­lines can­not evolve with­out an ac­cu­rate anal­y­sis of big data in an age of con­nected solutions and tech-savvy cus­tomers.

TravTalk - Middle East - - GUESTCOLUMN -

In the past decade, the cross-bor­der data flow con­nect­ing the Mid­dle East to the world has in­creased by more than 150-fold, ac­cord­ing to a McKin­sey report. More­over, car­ri­ers in the re­gion have faced sig­nif­i­cant head­winds over the past year. Mid­dle East pas­sen­ger de­mand in early 2018 has been mixed at best. That de­mand has reg­is­tered a con­sid­er­able drop com­pared to pre­vi­ous years and to other in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to re­cent IATA fig­ures. Data is the key to un­lock­ing op­por­tu­nity for air­lines. How­ever, it re­quires an ad­just­ment in mind­set. Air­lines in the re­gion to­day face chal­lenges they’ve never come across be­fore. Tra­di­tional com­peti­tors re­main ri­vals, and there are emer­gent con­tenders who, be­ing newer, are nim­bler as well as more upto-date in their ap­proach than many estab­lished car­ri­ers. Mov­ing from a process-driven to a data-driven mind­set is it­self a pro­found trans­for­ma­tion. To stay com­pet­i­tive, air­lines must start by us­ing data to drive per­son­al­i­sa­tion tech­niques and in­tel­li­gent mer­chan­dis­ing in their op­er­a­tions. Air­lines who will suc­ceed in this en­vi­ron­ment will be those who har­ness data and an­a­lyt­ics for cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence ex­cel­lence. One of the suc­cess fac­tors in be­com­ing data-driven is cre­at­ing a com­pany cul­ture that places data at the heart of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence jour­ney. Look­ing for new ways to cre­ate value from data is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. A great ex­am­ple of this is with sched­ule re­cov­ery—a rec­om­men­da­tion en­gine that uses big data anal­y­sis to au­to­mate a cer­tain num­ber of ac­tions, mak­ing bet­ter de­ci­sions faster. These solutions can help air­lines pre­dict pas­sen­ger out­comes so they can ef­fec­tively re­cover dis­rupted sched­ules. Air­lines can re­place ad-hoc pro­cesses with ones that au­to­mat­i­cally pin­point con­flicts. The re­sult is quicker co­or­di­na­tion be­tween ev­ery­one in­volved - from pas­sen­gers to crew. An­other area where data an­a­lyt­ics is cre­at­ing value is in de­ter­min­ing where to seat pas­sen­gers. Com­bin­ing mul­ti­ple data sources, such as map­ping pas­sen­ger book­ing be­hav­iour against the high­est spenders or even so­cial me­dia sen­ti­ment anal­y­sis will help to max­imise rev­enue. It will en­able per­son­alised of­fers specif­i­cally tar­get­ing those most likely to be in­ter­ested in that back-win­dow seat or spe­cial up­grade. Now is the time for ac­tion. When Sir Arthur Co­nan Doyle penned the words for Sher­lock Homes that “it is a cap­i­tal mis­take to the­o­rise be­fore one has data”, he would have had no clue just how rel­e­vant they would be to­day. In­no­va­tion, as op­posed to in­ven­tion, is the key to pro­pel­ling re­gional air­lines into a com­pet­i­tive fu­ture. With a datadriven mind­set, air­lines can achieve trans­for­ma­tional suc­cess that will lead them to the top of the game.

( The views ex­pressed are solely of the au­thor. The pub­li­ca­tion may or may not sub­scribe to the same.)

In the race to stay com­pet­i­tive, air­lines must start by us­ing data to drive per­son­al­i­sa­tion tech­niques and in­tel­li­gent mer­chan­dis­ing in their op­er­a­tions for en­hanc­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence ex­cel­lence

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