News stories about AI’s relentless march into our lives are a daily staple.

This reflects the latest phase of a two to three-year trend where businesses are trying to make better use of the data they have.

Despite the current AI hype, there are many examples of businesses succeeding through the smart use of their data. In many cases, you already have the insights you need to build a successful growth strategy at your fingertips – it’s just knowing how to leverage your aviation data in the right away.

So, with scare stories about ‘data laggards’ being left in the dust by their competitors, let’s explore how can airlines benefit from this ongoing data-driven trend.

The impact of airline data analytics

The key to a successful airline data strategy is to understand the actions it drives and its subsequent improvements on business metrics like revenue or customer satisfaction.

The connection between data and measurable success helps to avoid creating a string of vanity projects that look nice, but don’t deliver measurable results or performance improvements for your airline.

Given the right context and analysis, even a simple report can help a Commercial team move the dial with some straightforward interventions. For example, using accurate and timely insight into the movement of large groups for right-sizing airport resourcing – for example, at check-in or with baggage – can make a big difference in terms of both cost and customer satisfaction.

How data supports airline revenue management

Airline revenue management teams can hugely benefit from a wide range of airline data products.

A comprehensive dataset on customer browsing and booking behaviour can be a goldmine for optimising pricing and capacity. For example, by understanding materialisation ratios via reporting on routes, cabins, agents or group type, airlines can optimise pricing before departure.

Historical trends and wider industry data can be combined to make more accurate predictions about longer-term future booking behaviour and therefore, commercial decisions.

Since group bookings are often planned into Out of Date Range (ODR) territory, airlines can also use insight from browsing and quote data to inform early pricing decisions.

Using data to mitigate disruption

All airlines will recognise the immense challenges that unanticipated anomalies or disruptions can cause, both when it comes to resource and customer satisfaction.

With valuable data products at their fingertips, airlines can detect abnormalities in behaviour patterns with much more ease. This type of alerting can be incredibly useful in minimising the impact of both unexpected and planned changes.

For example, unusual cancellation patterns or changes in the rate of fare minimum triggers can suggest when adherence to terms and conditions is under threat. This can trigger airlines to look at cost-saving interventions – a process that can largely be automated to save resource, although it’s worth noting that most customers prefer to have a level of human oversight of any proposed changes.

When it comes to groups specifically, schedule changes can often have high costs when rebooking large groups – not to mention an impact on customer satisfaction. With good advance warning and smart alternative suggestions at your fingertips via your data products, you’re often able to mitigate these challenges.

Optimising marketing activity

Airlines can learn from their colleagues in the retail sector about the use of data to make the best use of their marketing spend.

Analytics and data insights into agents’ habits and preferences – along with those of their customers – enables airlines to launch more targeted offers and incentives, whether that’s within their own reward programmes or not.

The opportunity to upsell the right customers or convert abandoned baskets is well understood in the retail sector. When it comes to group bookings, this is the equivalent of increasing conversion rates at quote stage or ensuring that headcount isn’t reduced pre-ticketing, delivering valuable extra revenue.

Is AI going to disrupt the airline industry?

As with most things, it depends – and in part, it depends on what you’re willing to call AI.

There are lots of simple technology solutions to well-known challenges that don’t rely on – or cost as much as – the popular perceptions of AI; robots, large language models (LLMs) and generative AI.

Most people outside of the aviation industry would probably be surprised (if not alarmed) at how long we’ve been flying around in virtually driverless planes!

Certainly, there will be niches for some applications of machine learning and LLMs in aviation: perhaps in customer service, free-text availability search, demand prediction and optimising aircraft movements or maintenance.

However, I’d urge caution around so-called AI powered technology, which are often simple applications rebranded at a premium price.

 

In the end it all comes down to those business metrics we covered at the start: if the connection between a data product and measurable impact on your airline’s bottom line isn’t obvious, you should probably look elsewhere.

To summarise, getting your aviation data & analytics in good shape will prove a valuable asset. With group bookings often one of the more complex puzzle pieces for airlines, data-driven insights can help you plan how to maximise revenue opportunities in line with new tech – think NDC, ancillary sales and personalisation – both now and into the future.

Our brilliant airline software can help you do this. Dive into our products and unveil your bright future in group booking management.