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WLCAC 2015: Airlines behind the digital curve

“Airlines are finding ways to make people open up their wallets, but there’s more customer demand out there than the industry has been addressing.”

Those are the thoughts of Farelogix CEO Jim Davidson (left in photo), imparted to delegates on the second day of the World Low-Cost Airlines Congress while discussing the lessons – particularly in terms of using digital technology – that airlines can learn from the retail industry to enhance the passenger experience and boost sales opportunities.

Fellow panellist Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer of Finnair, gave his definition of digital transformation as “going through the whole customer journey and ensuring that you stay in contact with the customer

“The average ticket price is going down so we need to find new sources of revenue,” he continued. “WiFi is an enabler for that.”

Jarvinen also highlighted the opportunity that airlines have for ancillary sales with passengers being a captive audience. “But it’s crucial to get the balance right. Using the IFE is the way not to overwhelm the passenger. We won’t be sending loads of trolleys up and down the aisle,” he confirmed.

So much of the digital transformation involves airlines having a considerable amount of information about their passengers. Again a balance is required, this time between privacy (“which is a cultural thing,” noted Jarvinen) and the handing over of information. “For the most part I want an airline to know more about me and make me feel special, especially if things go wrong,” interjected Davidson.

The consensus remained among the panel that when the digital revolution came, airlines were sleeping and there is much catching up to do.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
London, UK

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