‘You have to treat passengers with respect’ for ancillaries to work and ‘make passengers feel like a winner every time’ and there is ‘still a lot to do’ with personalised data – further insights from the CAPA Airline Leader Summit

It’s hardly a secret that the airline industry is facing myriad challenges, notably in the marketing and distribution areas, as companies with personalised data, and the analytics and artificial intelligence to go with it, become greater threats to the stability of the traditional airline model.

CAPA – Centre for Aviation attempted to address those questions with its Airline Leader Summit, which had more than ten hours of agenda content designed to provide key learning, observations and real insights on the aviation, travel and hospitality sectors. The main summit theme this year was “Airlines making money: a vision of the future”, with the underlying theme of disruption and change.

Here’s some more insights and observations from delegates during the event at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, to the south of Dublin.

CellPoint Mobile: ‘You have to treat passengers with respect’ for ancillary to work
CellPoint Mobile SVP head of global sales, airline and hospitality Noel Connolly commented on ancillary revenue strategy, arguing “you have to treat passengers with respect”, reward passengers with “memorable experiences” and “every now and again give them a little something extra”. “Let payments not just be a cost but an enabler for the passenger”, he continued.

APEX CEO: Airlines have to ‘make passengers feel like a winner every time’
APEX CEO Dr Joe Leader said airlines must “make passengers feel like a winner every time”, warning: “If you don’t take the leadership position someone else along your value chain will”. He highlighted that “everyone wants to upgrade their experience, but each passenger has a different price point threshold and that can differ” for each journey.

CTM global CCO: Customers want information ‘in their hands and pushed to them’
CTM global CCO Laura Ruffles noted mobile is an increasing trend for travellers. Travellers want information “in their hands and pushed to them”, with information targeted to them and their overall travel situation. She added 80% of CTM transactions are made online, noting its mobile portion is growing every month though desktop is still dominant.

SkyTeam VP customer experience: 2019 tech investment ‘the highest it has ever been’
SkyTeam VP customer experience and commercial Mauro Oretti stated “our investment this year in technology is the highest it has ever been. In 2020 it will be even higher”. He said the “next generation” of alliances after loyalty will be technology.

Amex VP: Travel and well being entering ‘a whole new level of importance’ in corporate travel
American Express VP travel strategy and partnerships Johnny Thorsen said travel and well being are “coming into a whole new level of importance” in corporate travel. “The world is opening up and you have to be ready for data sharing. If you don’t you will be run off the road”, he concluded.

LOOK OUT… Exclusive executive interviews from the event will be published on CAPA TV in the coming weeks, as well as full coverage of the agenda sessions.

Gatwick Airport head of airline relations: ‘We try to satisfy all partners’
London Gatwick Airport head of airline relations Stephen King stated “we try to satisfy all partners”. He continued: “As the industry ebbs and flows, we can work to have contingencies in place”. Citing Flybe as an example, he said while the carrier has fully exited Gatwick, this has given other airlines room to grow.

Amazon Web Services: Loyalty programmes a ‘huge source of customer data’
Amazon Web Services head AWS Travel Massimo Morin stated loyalty programmes are a “huge source of customer data, but there are other components”. He continued: “For passengers it is personalisation and removing the spam. You need to make correspondence that makes them feel special, feel recognised and want to come back”.

Lufthansa Group manager passenger experience believes in ‘loyalty beyond the frequent flyer’
Lufthansa Group manager passenger experience design Ole Lindner said he believes there is a “loyalty beyond the frequent flyer”, creating unique experiences for customers which creates a “powerful base for boosting customer loyalty”. “There will always be a player with the lowest fares, but if you manage to gain unique experience from your customer, it can become a very powerful base to support customer loyalty”.

IATA: ONE Order ‘moving a lot faster’ than NDC
IATA director, industry distribution programmes Yanik Hoyles said as the New Distribution Capability (NDC) matures, the business case for LCCs will “make a lot more sense” in the next two to three years. He noted IATA’s ONE Order programme is one or two years behind NDC but “moving a lot faster” than NDC.

Skyscanner ‘filling 24 Airbus A320s an hour’ in Europe
Skyscanner senior director, strategic partnerships Hugh Aitken said the company is “filling 24 Airbus A320s an hour” in Europe as it handled 3.6 billion searches, more than 230 million redirects and more than 39 million passengers in the past 12 months. Skyscanner is “one of the most frequently visited” brands globally in terms of indexed search volume, he boasted, fourth behind Airbnb, Bookings.com and Ryanair.

Air China VP and GM North America: There are too many intermediaries in corporate travel
Air China VP and GM North America Dr Zhihang Chi expressed scepticism on corporate travel, stating there are “too many intermediaries”. He added travel management TMCs “are necessary evils… that we have to work with”, though “as long as they add value and perform services, I am willing to pay them”.

Norwegian EVP strategic development: 787-9 ‘feels like a better product’ for passengers
Norwegian EVP strategic development Tore Østby said the 787-9 “feels like a better product” for passengers. He said the carrier has increased premium cabin seats from 31 to 56 in its 787-9 aircraft. “This is a product the market really wants”, he noted.

Volantio CEO: IAG a ‘great example’ of managing procurement, differentiating risk
Volantio CEO Azim Barodawala argued airline management is not necessarily the issue to implementing technology and innovation, but “road blocks” can include legal and procurement hurdles. He noted IAG is a “great example” of an airline changing the way they do procurement, manage start ups and differentiate risks.

MORE INSIGHTS…
CAPA – Centre for Aviation members were able to see live updates from the CAPA Airline Leader Summit and have access to over 100 briefs from the event. Find out more about how a CAPA membership provides a front row seat to global aviation news, analysis and data as it happens, with access to a comprehensive suite of tools that can be customised to your needs.