Did you miss out on some of June’s industry events? If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a quick summary of the key topics of conversation and some takeaways from our senior leadership team.
Skyscanner’s Hugh Aitken recently delivered a keynote speech at CAPA’s Airline Leader Summit in Dublin. He explored the European aviation market and a mobile-first offering that meets the expectations of modern travellers. Read on for some key highlights from the presentation, and a brief summary of some of the main talking points at the event.
Last week CAPA – Centre for Aviation hosted its World Aviation Outlook Summit in Berlin. With presentations from 20 of the airline industry’s key C-suite leaders, key topics addressed at the summit included:
Changes in distribution and how the push by IATA for airlines to implement the NDC standard has encouraged the industry to adopt a retail focused approach to distribution
The digital economy – how will airlines differentiate their product offering and deliver a personalised and seamless experience for customers
Environmental sustainability - how the industry is working to safeguard the environment, from today’s new generation fuel-efficient to tomorrow’s electric aeroplanes
Hugh Aitken, Commercial Director at Skyscanner, joined other leading industry experts for a discussion around the need to speed up the transformation of the industry.
Other pannelists included:
William Owen, Founder at Made by Many
Kevin Clark, CEO at Bluebox Aviation Systems
Kristian Gjerding, CEO at CellPoint Mobile
Christian Langer, Vice President at Lufthansa Group
The discussion highlighted how airlines now operate more as digital companies rather than just transportation companies.
Other questions that arose during the panel discussion:
Outside competition – is it required to fire up internal creativity?
Are big organisations simply unable to cope with the speed of change in technology and customer behaviour?
How to identify the winning ideas?
Putting the framework in place first - deciding on an airline’s digital strategy
How global alliances are using technology to facilitate multilateral connectivity and deliver benefits to customers of member airlines
Additionally, many airlines now lean on creative technology start-ups to identify solutions for their technology, operations and customer service problems.
Hugh Aitken shared his thoughts on what airlines need to do in the continually evolving mobile travel marketplace. He said that the digitalisation of airlines would be an “absolute benefit” for travellers and the customer experience.
“We need more help from airlines to do the right thing for travellers”, he said, adding “there is a huge difference between different airlines in terms of digital capacities”.
NDC was a central theme at the summit with discussions focussing on how the adoption by airlines will continue to accelerate into next year. Finnair chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen endorsed NDC adoption saying “NDC will distribute ancillary elements much better than the carrier can through GDS”.
50% of passengers buying on finnair.com buy ancillary items, Mr Jarvinen said, adding the carrier has improved GDS channels to sell ancillary, with one in 10 purchasing ancillaries compared with one in 100 passengers three years ago. There is still a “huge difference” compared to what can be done with NDC, Mr Jarvinen concluded.
In this latest blog, we take a look back at last week’s CAPA Aviation summit in Singapore and review the highlights of the panel discussion on NDC – Distribution Game Changers – Adopt or Perish? Gavin Harris, Commercial Director at Skyscanner within our Airline Partnerships division was joined on the panel by Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President, Airlines, APAC, Amadeus, Chris Ramm, Vice President Asia Pacific, Air Partners at Travelport and Campbell Wilson, SVP Sales and Marketing at Singapore Airlines.
Legacy distribution systems have for decades presented airlines with the twin problems of high costs and product commoditisation. In efforts to address these issues, a handful of carriers in Europe, and now Asia Pacific, have invested heavily into establishing their own API channels with agents, while the concurrent push by IATA for airlines to implement the NDC standard has encouraged the industry to adopt a retail focused approach to distribution. The GDS will also need to evolve in order to remain relevant and to compete effectively against other intermediaries and aggregators such as metasearch companies (some of which now have direct booking capabilities), as well as digital behemoths such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook - to gain a slice of the pie.
But as airlines work on enhancing their retail offering and improving their merchandising capability via both direct and indirect channels, a resounding message from industry players is that airlines need to consider the importance of mobile and messaging platforms, which are slowly replacing the desktop as the preferred interface for researching and booking travel.
Is this increasingly fragmented and complex commercial and technological distribution landscape sustainable? How will business models evolve in response? Is there a need for a direct connect aggregator?
Should airlines build lots of direct connects or revert back to lean, centralised distribution channels?
Who is going to be offering services to bridge the gap between airlines/aggregators that are NDC compliant and those that aren’t? Will it be the GDS and IT providers, other airlines or speciality providers?
How are newer intermediaries adding value to airline distribution?
How do airlines enhance their digital shopfront? Are airlines over-emphasising the importance of airline.com over mobile messaging platforms and bot technologies?
Speaking on the issue of NDC and Customisation, Gavin commented on Skyscanner’s future NDC strategy and predictions, stating:
Our pipeline of partners with NDC is getting healthier, we're trying to scale the type of ancillaries that airlines can have. We realise you can't go to heavy on customisation.
Further issues explored during the panel discussion included:
NDC - Metasearch - Direct booking capability - How Skyscanner is accelerating new channel adaptation for Airlines
What will the crystalball for Metasearch looks like in 2 years time (Airline , Travel distribution - NDC)
Experiences of BA, Avianca, Singapore Airlines in NDC direct connect - lessons for other Airlines
Retailing, dynamic fare, speed to market, - Good Quality Traffic, High yield - what are marketing opportunity for Airlines - large & small - Can they afford it?
Mobile, messaging- Metasearch - Plans for an integrated solution for airlines?
In a bid to provide more of a consistent product offering across the entire travel distribution ecosystem, Skyscanner announced last month that it had joined NDC Exchange, a platform that enables content interoperability across the airline distribution ecosystem and is a trusted bridge between the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC) and traditional distribution methods. The addition of Skyscanner’s impressive reach to NDC Exchange adds value for all on the platform through a growing network effect. Each month, 80 million people use the Skyscanner website or its highly-rated mobile app, which has been downloaded over 70 million times. Skyscanner’s global reach can also be seen through its products that are offered in over 30 languages and 70 currencies.
Hugh Aitken, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships, Skyscanner will be speaking next at World Aviation Outlook Summit, Berlin on 27-28 November.
Skyscanner attended the World Routes festival 23-26th September in Barcelona, where Senior Director Hugh Aitken spoke on the panel, ‘How digital will reshape aviation by 2020’, alongside Marie Norman, head of products and concepts at Aviation Business, and Azim Barodawala, chief executive of US technology business Volantio.
Skyscanner is excited to be participating in the upcoming IATA NDC Hackathon in Dublin, May 19 – May 21st. The hackathon is designed to bring together developers, marketers, designers and innovators with the mission of taking airline retailing to the next level.
Skyscanner will be attending this year's Routes Americas (set to be the biggest to date) between the 14th and 16th of February. Skyscanner will have a stand (S2) and also be kicking off the second day with a Routes Talk covering '21st century analytics and their role in identifying traffic leakage' (February 15th at 9:45).
Faical Allou, Business Development Manager of Travel Insight, will be discussing 21st Century Travel Data and Analytics - and specifically, how they are evolving in the age of the hyper connected consumer - at this year's Hamburg Aviation Conference (February 8th - 9th).