5 Ways Mobility Unlocks New In-flight Revenue Opportunities

Infinite Peripherals
Infinite Peripherals   |   Posted April 03, 2019

It is no secret that technology disruption has sparked widespread changes in consumer-facing industries. In recent years, the way people browse, shop, and purchase goods and services shifted dramatically to favor digital channels.

The airline industry, therefore, must meet the new buying habits and demands of their passengers, almost all of whom do not leave home without a mobile device. Customers are used to browsing and shopping when and however they want, and this expectation doesn’t stop because they’re in the sky.

Quality in-flight connectivity is one of the top three drivers of airline selection, following only price and schedule. A survey conducted by market research firm GfK found that 60% of passengers believe that inflight Wi-Fi is a necessity, and 52% of business travelers said the waste time spent in flight when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

The familiarity and convenience of mobile devices can also be a driving factor in facilitating expanded revenue opportunities onboard. Mobility solutions designed specifically for airlines can make new, profitable options a reality with opportunities such as:

1. Smart Selling

Profits are in additional sales

Currently, passengers shell out millions for early check-in, extra legroom, frequent flyer miles, and in-flight purchases like snacks, movies, Wi-Fi, and retail items. According to the consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany, in 2016, airlines raked in more than $60 billion in ancillary revenue. For low-fare airlines, this additional income makes up a more substantial part of their bottom line - sometimes as much as 40%.

With the right in-flight mobility solution, an airline can enhance sales opportunities by analyzing data and insights. Flight attendants can use purchase histories to stock the right products and deliver a higher level of personalized service.

An airline can also use information from loyalty program accounts, partner retailers, and other sources to segment passenger lists based on prior purchases to increase relevant target marketing and in-flight offers.

2. Passenger Self-Service

The speed and convenience of self-service

The rise of self-service checkout lanes and kiosks give consumers more control over how, when, and what they order. Instead of waiting for a flight attendant to walk by with the drink or snack cart, an integrated mobility hardware and software platform gives passengers the useful ability to order via mobile device app or seatback screen. With an efficient in-flight system, an order alerts the flight attendant via a mobile device so he or she can deliver the item directly to the passenger’s seat.

3. Destination Merchandising

Help passengers use their time wisely

Passengers fill travel time in a variety of ways, but many appreciate the ability to plan their destination activities while in the air. With an app-based digital experience, an airline can provide a virtual concierge service that offers products and discounts related to the flight’s destination. While flying, passengers can access a roster of area-related activity recommendations and booking options. Leveraging partnerships, the airline can make exclusive offers to the consumers, thus providing passengers the ability to customize their travel experience further while opening new revenue streams for the airline.

4. Ease of Payment

Cash isn’t king 40,000 miles in the sky

Most North American airlines do not accept cash for in-flight purchases. Therefore, a point of sale (POS) system is essential to quickly and efficiently process credit cards while tracking inventory levels.

Wi-Fi connectivity can sometimes be spotty depending on the flight path, so a mobile POS system that operates offline and syncs with the network is essential to offer seamless customer service.

Processing purchases through mobile devices that take EMV chip cards help airlines cut down on fraud and loss. Devices equipped to accept contactless payments or mobile wallets mimic the modern retail experience that customers expect.

5. Supply Chain Management and Maintenance

Real-time communication

Real-time inventory tracking is essential to provide the right products to the right passengers. With an onboard mobility system, passengers can use their devices to view available products. A connected system can even enable ordering before the flight so passengers can ensure they always receive their first-choice of beverage, snack, or meal.

As flight attendants distribute items, they can scan barcodes to update the stock level in real time, which expedites restocking upon arrival. Additionally, an inventory management system enables the airline to collect relevant data to adjust inventory levels based on the best-selling products.

Gathering more data about consumer preferences will help airlines work with all aspects of their supply chain more effectively. Optimizing this process will save time and money while increasing revenue.

Conclusion: Higher Revenue and Satisfied Customers

Technology is driving consumer expectations and will continue to disrupt traditional in-flight customer service operations. Mobility solutions give airlines a platform to provide exceptional customer service, personalize targeted marketing for higher sales, offer new destination-related services, and pinpoint new efficiencies onboard and throughout the entire supply chain.

Are you interested in a more passenger-centric, efficient, and profitable system for your airline? Learn more about a complete end-to-end onboard retail platform here.