Ai Editorial: Counting on real-time demand data to target loyal customers

21st May, 2020

Interview with  Seth Cassel, President, EveryMundo


Airlines must leverage a variety of data sources to assess demand for travel, even as they take initiatives to support their loyal customer base in the best possible manner.

Be it for forecasting an airline loyalty program’s liability, getting the messaging right, offering relevant deals etc., nothing is straightforward.

EveryMundo has indicated that after a crisis, previously loyal customers will not be as dependable as they once were, and airlines need to "treat loyal customers like they need to be earned again".

Seth spoke to Ai’s Ritesh Gupta about the same:

Ai:  This is an extremely uncertain situation for airlines, with liquidity crisis garnering the maximum attention. How can airlines bank on fare marketing and content-related initiatives to target their loyal customer base?  

Seth: We are witnessing our airline customers begin preparation for the “restart”: the immediate moment when they return capacity to the skies, and load factor increase becomes critical. Airlines can walk and chew gum at the same time, i.e. manage liquidity while returning to the market. Fare marketing is at the heart of the restart, given the attractive fares airlines will leverage to help capture the limited demand available in the market at the moment. This applies to loyal customers as well - airlines will need to re-acquire their loyalty base and encourage them to be early adopters of the restart. Fare marketing will bring the loyal customer base back into the fray faster. We've detailed our plan for this in our playbook.

Ai: How can airlines evaluate demand to aptly target loyal customers?  What are the challenges considering that there is no empirical data to examine and envisage how things are going to shape up in the future?

Seth: During these uncertain times, airlines should consider alternative data sources to understand demand.

Using historical data to forecast future demand is clearly off the table; EveryMundo advocates a switch to real-time demand data coupled with the agility to react quickly to changing indicators.

Specifically we are providing real-time demand data to our airline customers using IBE search data via our FareNet technology, as well as Google Ads search impression data. Between these two sources, we can piece together an accurate picture of route and travel date demand as a series of real-time snapshots.  



(For instance, data tools to enable airlines gauge real-time demand on a route level during this highly dynamic period. These tools will help airlines better understand the fluctuations in consumer demand and the needs of their customers, particularly in the context of their local markets. A way is to place a pixel on an airline’s booking engine to collect in real-time the flight and fare information based on user searches. Every time a flight search is initiated by a web visitor, relevant information about the user search including origin and destination, travel dates, number of passengers, cabin class etc. is garnered. This can aid in network planning by determining which routes to reopen according to traveler interest. Plus, there is a provision for an insight into route performance, volatility in search demand and average fare via their actionable Internet booking engine (IBE) dashboard).

Ai: What would you term as common mistakes when it comes to reaching out loyal customers via airline-owned channels?

Seth: At times, it seems airlines' loyalty strategy is to extract more value out of a loyal customer on a per-transaction basis: premium perks for a premium-paying customer.  Given the current circumstances, airlines should re-focus efforts on loyal customers flying sooner and more often. Loyal customers can be the early adopters that accelerate the restart. We believe fare marketing -- presenting attractive, compelling fares to the loyal customer base -- is a key pillar of the strategy to re-acquire loyal customers.

Ai: How can airlines bank on their databases and platforms (for example – customer data platform, CRM and frequent flyer databases) to complement some of the tools, for instance, an API that can return the lowest fare available for a given route?

Seth: This depends on the extent to which these databases, platforms, and tools are integrated.

For example, an airline can execute email campaigns targeting its customer/loyalty database, featuring the best available fares on routes frequently flown in the past by each customer.

Ai: It is a delicate balance to get that messaging right in these times. How can airlines focus on content and make booking rewards travel easy for members of their loyalty program members?

Seth: Airline messaging regarding health and sanitation measures is, needless to say, critical for the foreseeable future. But that is not mutually exclusive to the messaging of deals and offers, including reward travel. This starts with promoting reactivated routes as airlines restore their networks. With improved network visibility, airlines can then market award travel through redemption tools where customers can search by route, date, and award budget.

Ai: Airlines are offering members options to purchase miles, gifting of miles etc. How can airlines make the most of their digital assets, such as the desktop site, mobile app etc. to make the most of the same?

Seth: A consistent flow of messaging in high-traffic areas of the website and mobile app of miles offers will be useful in creating a sense of normalcy for previously frequent fliers. That being said, valuable digital real estate (i.e. high-traffic pages) should be leveraged to drive flight search and booking. Increasing load factor -- starting with mobilizing the loyalty base - is priority #1.


Follow Ai on LinkedIn: