Airlines boost mobile spending to snare more passenger data

Barely before this column is into its stride you will be diverted to our sparkly new website (should you be reading this via the daily newsletter), where, in exchange for a few morsels of personal information, the entirety of Talking Point’s lofty musing is available to peruse.

MRO Network, naturally, wants to know more about you in order to adapt itself accordingly, a longstanding feature of most websites, but one that is only now propelling airlines’ digital strategy.

This time last year, for instance, only one in five airlines told a SITA survey that it planned to invest in business intelligence solutions; now, everybody is keen to.

Also, in the next three years, almost all airlines will invest in mobile services as more tickets are sold via smartphones and other gadgetry, from three per cent of total sales today to a predicted 10 per cent by 2016.

As well as being convenient for passengers, better mobile functionality allows airlines to differentiate themselves, either through the efficiency of their digital services or the quality of their apps and tools. Luddites might consider that guff, but there is already a clear division between the 53 per cent of airlines that offer mobile boarding passes and the paper-trailing pack.

The most important test of an airline’s digital presence, however, is how well it learns about its customers in order to customise and direct sales and marketing towards them.

Currently less than one in 10 airlines is happy with its customer data, but, if passengers can be encouraged to manage all of their interactions via a single portal – a phone running the airline’s app, for instance – a deep well of information is there to be plumbed.

“The result will be a much deeper integration of personalised mobile services at every step of the journey for passengers on the move," states Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA.

Of course, it may also mean that your last flight’s gastronomic lowlights pop up incessantly during subsequent internet sessions, but, who knows – maybe a choice of partially-defrosted pizza over plastic-sheathed panini really does illuminate deeply held dreams and fears.

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