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Airline Trends OPINION


Onboard retail goes digital


Raymond Kollau, founder of airlinetrends.com, reports on how data, connectivity and digital devices are helping to increase onboard ancillary revenues


In an effort to add high-margin ancillary sales to low-margin seat revenues, airlines are thinking of more ways to increase onboard revenues. Or as the New York Times put it recently: “The great advances in technology present an opportunity for airlines to essentially sell more things to customers, whether the product is inflight entertainment, food and drink, customised services to elite- status passengers or products at the destination, including hotel packages, sports and concert tickets, restaurant and theatre reservations. On an airplane, you have a captive market, and with sophisticated technology, you can sell to passengers in very personal ways.”


42 WWW.ONBOARDHOSPITALITY.COM


Adds Brett Proud, ceo of onboard retail solutions provider GuestLogix, “The path toward developing a competitive edge – and indeed, for airlines’ survival – now lies in focusing on a complete onboard retail strategy that encompasses everything from traditional duty-free to virtual shopping in the sky and, importantly, embracing the technology and analytics to do so.”


Digital platforms


Airlines know they have critical data on passengers, but the key is figuring out how to monetize that information. Direct benefits from applying data analytics are in the reduction of onboard waste and better equipping each flight to meet product demand,


"With


sophisticated technology, you can sell to passengers in very personal ways"


but the real challenge lies in developing new revenue streams based on the intelligence from big data. Hence, with 100 per cent of airlines indicating that they are investing in business intelligence projects, according to SITA’s latest survey, airlines at the same time are working to leverage innovations in tablet and smartphone technology as a means of driving ancillary revenues. The future of inflight commercial will see the passenger gaining more independence too, as touch-sensitive seatback screens with connectivity capabilities begin to enable self-service shopping and food ordering, while airline staples such as the duty free cart and seat- pocket catalogue are being digitally reimagined.


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