First Published on 26th March, 2018
Ai Editorial: It is not easy for an organization like airline to collect data, unify it to work on a profile and "operationalize" into actionable data. But airlines are moving in the right direction, writes Ai's Ritesh Gupta
"If you are just looking at data, then you aren’t really doing anything. The problem is everyone sees data and don’t really take action," this statement from a senior executive from Hong Kong Express Airways is an apt answer to why airlines tend to lag behind in the race of data-driven decision-making.
One of the biggest gains that has emerged from what the likes of JetBlue, Hong Kong Express Airways, Finnair etc. have done over the last 18-24 months is their decision to start, be it for loyalty or customer service. Here are few examples:
Hong Kong Express Airways’ reward-U program: This lifestyle and loyalty program, launched in April 2016, had over 1 million members in 16 months. Serving a growing segment of Millennials, the program has been working on a plan to club members according to their preferences, behavior etc. and forming different tribes. The concept of “tribes” is based on overall activity, for instance, travel, retail, food etc. and a member can be in multiple tribes at any time base on a minimal level of activity. The team has been analyzing data and this new initiative is a direct result of spending pattern that the team has been observing in terms of consumption and activity. The team also asserts that they have been getting a picture of what people are doing, and the association with a low-cost airline doesn’t mean that the members are "low spenders". They are high spenders. They might save money on airfares, but they can spend (relatively lot more) money on accommodation and so forth. Their retailing activities are not low-cost either, can be termed as high-spend. They are bargain hungry but not averse to spending, too.
The airline decided to take specific learnings from data, chose to act on it, and then observed what happened. "We try to experiment from what we are seeing, try to stimulate activity or some type of behavior. Rather than accumulating data in huge amounts, we are taking snapshots and acting on it," shared a senior executive from the airline.
JetBlue's focus on customer service: JetBlue today is able to aggregate a single view of the customer (on service channels). So all interactions (say featuring a JetBlue account on Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram etc. or an interaction at the airport or with a call centre executive) are captured and aggregated into a single conversational view of a customer. The airline is looking at adding information to the “profile” of a traveller. Their platform sits on the top of a CRM and augments customer service. It can aggregate data on its own too – relating a profile’s social media handle, email id, phone number etc. By capturing data and maintaining profiles, any organization can move from mass personalisation to macro personalisation to micro personalisation, and eventually to analytics-driven personalisation.
Finnair's journey of personalisation: Finnair also has been on the path of moving from rules-driven personalisation to an analytics-driven phase. The team is clear that every time passengers interact with the airline, the team ends up learning more about them. The focus is on behavioural profiling, demographics and personal data, as well as historical and preference data. The airline has been displaying targeted content based on segmentation analysis, dynamic content for the upcoming flight (ancillary up-sell) etc.
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