We're not just embracing airline digital transformation – we're loving it!

David Doctor

Vice President, Provider Offer Management, Travel Channels, Amadeus IT Group

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Has there ever been a better time to be part of the airline industry? The pace of change is staggering and there's excitement for the possibilities ahead.

At Amadeus, we’ve been sharing with our airline customers some of the innovations for airlines throughout this year. The conversation continued on the second day of the Aviation Festival in London. During a panel discussion, we explored the potential of digital innovations and artificial intelligence (AI) on aviation. I’d like to share with you some of the key takeaways from that discussion.

Airline digital transformation is happening right now

Businesses are speeding up and putting data in the driver's seat. They are also finding new ways to become more connected to customers. At the end of last year the LSE said in its travel distribution report that, “The size and speed of the consumer revolution– and the potential power it places in the hands of innovative firms - is underestimated by many players”. I agree with this; new technologies could shift the balance of power. And those who respond to the changes and embrace this evolution will no doubt reap the rewards.

Consumer expectations are high

As successful retailers, like Amazon, set new and higher expectations from consumers, aviation will need to respond. Aviation players will need to focus on consumer priorities across ‘product, service, and convenience’. Consumers today expect the same level of service, personalisation, and consistency across channels. We discussed what the industry could learn from companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify. The key takeaways for me were:

  • Simplify the experience:

    Enable consumers to start, stop and take up again across multiple devices and channels

  • Personalisation: Understand and anticipate consumer needs and offer relevant offers at the relevant time.
  • Data-driven decisions: It’s not only about the data – it’s about getting actionable insights from the data.

Collaboration and integration will bring benefits on a scale that matters

No matter how powerful, for any new technology to deliver on its full potential, it needs to be integrated with core travel industry systems. It needs to be part of a full omni-channel strategy. Offering travellers an omni-channel end to end experience means making these new technologies work for everyone.

Innovation and new technologies plays well into the LCC business

Low-cost carriers (LCCs) are already successful retailers, adopters of new technologies and their business model is more digitally focused. We see this with airlines like Ryanair, who has adopted Amazon’s model of selling 3rd party content and now sells flights from other airlines, eg. Air Europa. Dynamic pricing of ancillaries using machine learning and predictive analytics is also top of mind for LCCs, as well as the concept of virtually interlining with other, non-partner carriers while providing a seamless experience across multiple flights.

At Amadeus we have been passionate about innovation and digital transformation for some time. We are investing in in-house innovation and start-ups to bring new capabilities and technologies to airlines.

  • Our travel intelligence

    teams leverage a unique combination of big data assets, technologies and expert data scientists to deliver actionable insights to airline customers

  • Our digital advertising solutions

    use artificial intelligence and machine learning that is able to predict which ad space is more likely to generate better conversions

  • This year Navitaire developed the world’s first VR travel search

    and booking experience

These are just a few of the ways that we are delivering innovation for airlines. Find out more at Amadeus.com and check out our thought leadership paper Embracing Digital Transformation: a spotlight on what travellers value.