Using Data to Enhance the In-Flight Travel Experience

Infinite Peripherals
Infinite Peripherals   |   Posted September 26, 2018

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised on an airplane?

These days, the thought of traveling conjures up images of crowded planes, delayed flights, and rapidly shrinking leg room. As a result, traveling often feels more like a burden and less like an exciting, personalized experience.

Imagine staying loyal to an airline because it provided you with a memorable in-flight experience that included your favorite snacks and beverages, with Wi-Fi and relevant travel information right at your fingertips. This concept isn’t so far-fetched.

With data, comes insight, metrics, and a fundamental understanding of customers and what they want.

Good Personalization starts with Good Data

How do bold, innovative airlines seize the opportunity to personalize the travel experience? It starts with understanding data. For example, some airlines eventually tapped into the growing preference for craft brewing, with IPA’s now available for in-flight purchase. On-board offerings have slowly begun to reflect consumer preferences, but the shift is slow. Airlines can now begin to get ahead of these changes rather than playing catch up by leveraging the tools and information that already exist:

First-party data: Airlines already have access to volumes of internal data collected instantly at every customer touch point.

Third-party data: Airlines can tap into the analytics of shifting travel trends and consumer buying behavior.

Once airlines leverage first-party data to understand who their customers are, they can implement insight from third-party data to better predict what those customers want. Data tells airlines what sells, what’s hot, and what’s not. With data, comes insight, metrics, and a fundamental understanding of customers and what they want. Then, airlines can provide exciting new products while minimizing wasted inventory. This lays the foundation for a truly unique, highly personal onboard experience. It also taps into the robust potential for retail partnerships to target in-flight offers.

Personalized Travel Experience: An Untapped Opportunity

Replacing the travel experience of old with a highly customized experience capitalizes on the unique position of travel consumers: they want to spend their money. Consumers’ willingness to upgrade and splurge on-board encompasses millennials, the generation revolutionizing retail and travel. 60% of traveling millennials will upgrade by purchasing extras such as in-flight Wi-Fi. A whopping 68% will remain loyal to incentives and reward programs. Consumer loyalty hinges upon the initial experience, which is critically important in today’s world of online ratings and reviews. In the digital world, the retail landscape is hyper-focused on targeted marketing and an ultra-convenient buying experience. Personalization is the cost of entry. About 57% of travelers think retailers should tailor their offerings based on personal preferences or past purchases. Given the abundance of willing buyers, why do in-flight retail sales account for a meager 5% of travel spend?

Ticket sales are no longer the litmus test for defining success. Consumer preferences have shifted, whereby they demand- and are willing to pay for- a brand experience- regardless of whether it is in store, online, or onboard.

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