7 September 2018
Aviation Festival London round-up
Lessons from the conference floor
It has been a great few days here in London at the Aviation Festival – and utterly non-stop. Keynotes. Seminars. Catch-ups over coffee. Chats over beers. The mother of all aviation parties at the Emirates Stadium. This event doesn’t disappoint.
It has has been a packed week. We also hosted some close friends and contacts from the likes of Aer Lingus, Sky Airlines, Spirit Airlines and GOL airlines for dinner and some lively debate about CX and the holy grail of 1:1 interactions. I joined a panel discussion the next day on personalisation and loyalty alongside speakers from Finnair, United Airlines, Malaysia Airlines.
Elsewhere our very own David Hoar led a session about the role of the marketer in the next generation of airlines and how they can succeed in an ever-changing business environment.
To get there, he thinks the idea of marketing enablement needs to catch up with the ubiquity of sales enablement. There’s clearly a lot of work to do.
Three stand-out themes
We must have heard hundreds of different issues, themes, problems and challenges talked about over the last few days (there were over 300 speakers, after all). But it seems to me that three critical areas emerged this year that are set to shape the future of personalised customer experience in travel.
1. Agility powers progress
Time and again speakers from airlines of all shapes and sizes emphasised how critical it is to embrace a “test and evolve” mantra rather than big digital transformations. Traditional approaches need to be replaced with something more iterative to enable progress. As Robin Hayes, JetBlue CEO said: “there used to be big CRM projects that took five years. Now it’s all about experimenting with smaller use cases, quickly”.
2. Taming data is critical
It’s no surprise that everyone here is united on the power of data as a business enabler for reducing costs, driving revenues and improving customer experience. Perhaps it’s why the Festival is right up our street – using data to solve problems and drive smarter interactions is what gets us out of bed in the morning.
But airlines need to blend the right data with commercial creativity to see results. I loved hearing Skúli Mogensen, WOW Air CEO, talk through what they’re doing in this space. They worked out that carrying one can of coke on one plane for a year costs them $150, so built an algorithm that automatically sets stock levels based on customer data. Just three days’ worth of work reduced take-off weight across their fleet and saved money. Elsewhere they’re applying the learnings of online gaming companies to their own data to experiment with so-called “micro transactions”.
3. AI isn’t delivering at scale… yet
AI has been the subject of huge hype for years and no doubt, there are pockets of innovation happening that is showing AI is starting to add real value. But the truth is this: the reality isn’t yet matching the newspaper headlines.
Airlines that are leveraging AI well are doing so because they’re taking a practical approach, focusing first on tightly defining starting projects and use cases (like making sense of website browsing patterns, setting fares according to passenger demand or enabling chatbot functionality) before scaling upwards. This topic – AI’s reality versus the hype – comes up time and time again and is something I’m hugely passionate about. There’s too much potential going to waste.
Enterprise Sales & Consulting
Ray is Enterprise Sales & Consulting at Boxever – a market-leading personalisation platform that uses data and AI to make every customer interaction smarter. Boxever is recognised by Gartner as a leading player in personalisation and ranked by Forbes alongside Google, Apple and Amazon as one of the most powerful examples of AI in use today.