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What springs to mind when you hear the word "digital"? The term can mean anything and everything. What do we do nowadays that doesn't involve us using our smartphones or laptops to help enable a part of that transaction? And each of those transactions generate reams of data that can be used by companies to better understand their customers, and eventually sell an improved package or experience.
The event welcomed over 380 attendees and 77 airlines from across the travel industry to debate on best practices in the digital arena and share key insights to help grow revenues and perfect that ever-elusive retail shopping experience for the traveller. While presenters recognised that there was still a long way to go to reach the holy grail of personalised shopping, it was clear that big steps are being made in several areas.
Karin Dodson, Head of Customer Experience Management at Amadeus, shared insight into work being done with Air Baltic in terms of passenger segmentation. Data analytics is being used to match known customer groups with segments shown by passenger data, enabling the airline to identify and better profile passengers.
Presentations from Qantas, Air Canada, Icelandair, Finnair, Air Berlin, American Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Accenture and AliTrip provided further insight into the myriad ways that airlines and the travel industry are innovating and testing new fields to better shape their offer and deliver for travellers.
Nandor Locher, Head of Digital Direct at Qantas eloquently summarised the drive to move with the digital era by concluding: "Tech change is like a wave, you've either got to be riding it or you get smashed".
New technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics, person to person payments, chatbots and blockchain were also in the point of focus, as presenters explored how these new fields could be applied to the airline industry. "New technologies require what we don't have a lot of, patience and time," admitted Michael Bayle, Head of Mobile at Amadeus, but it's clear that these technologies are already influencing the industry's transformation.
Millennials also dominated the event after a presentation on Gen Y caused debate amongst attendees. What do airlines need to do to get rave online reviews (😍) from their millennial customer base?
One thing is clear - the airline industry is well aware of the challenges they face, but they don't face them alone. Collaboration amongst airlines, tech providers and other third parties has characterised the industry since its early beginnings, and the digital age is only serving to strengthen those connections.
See the event video for more insight into the conversations last week on shaping the future of airline digital transformation: