KUAL LUMPUR: Customers’ expectations of their interaction with airlines are changing due to the rapid digital transformation among digital players including Uber, Airbnb and Google Flights.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) financial and distribution services transformation director Eric Leopold said society, technologies, environment, economy and politics would have various impacts on the future of the airline industry.
“Digital retailers have managed to build trust and to raise customers’ expectations for seamless shopping experience, zero click payment, real-time information. This makes airline customers are expecting airlines to provide the same level of services,” he said at a briefing during IATA Global Media Day 2018 recently.
However, he cautioned that digital transformation cannot be avoided, while noting that not all airlines will move at the same pace in the digital revolution.
“Some airlines are moving to digital projects (digital distribution and payment). The airline industry has embarked on a journey to transform the customers’ experience,” he added.
He said each step of the experience was now automated using technology and completely disrupted.
“Digital companies have managed to build trust and airlines need to align to their customers’ new expectations,” he said.
IATA new distribution capability (NDC) programme director Yanik Hoyles said the value chain was constrained today as customers, agents and airlines were the victims of an outdated standard and technology capability.
“IATA has developed a standard that enhances the data communications capabilities between airlines and travel agents,” he said.
Hoyles added that NDC allowed airlines to modernise the way air products are retailed to travel agents, corporations and travellers.
“NDC is a travel-industry supported programme for the development and adoption of a new data transmission standard.
“NDC will benefit full service and budget airlines, technology providers, travel agents as well as corporate buyers and travellers,” he said.
He said the NDC approach consists of XML internet language to support the delivery of rich content such as the ability to buy ancillary products and services in travel agency and other third party systems.
Hoyles said NDC would provide revenue opportunity for airlines by facilitating new entry to increase competition and drive down costs in the areas of ticketing, payment and revenue accounting.
Meanwhile, IATA head of passenger security Guido Peetermans said passengers numbers were expected to grow from 4.1 billion in 2017 to 8.2 billion by 2037.
However, he cautioned there were barriers that could hold back growth if airlines do not harness the power of data and digital technology.
“The solutions for secure, seamless and efficient travel include open borders and automation and advanced screening,” he said.
“States is encouraged to revisit their visa regimes and use data for interactive advance passenger information (passengers’ passport information).
“States should also promote interoperable solutions such as automated border control systems that read e-passports to allow the processing of more passengers with integrated customs declarations,” he said.
Peetermans said increased automation including self-check in, bag drop, immigration, self-boarding would lower costs for the industry.