Who do we serve?

Consider a scenario: You walk into an airport, checkin your bags, collect your boarding pass and then head to duty free or perhaps for a quick bite. Suddenly your phone beeps with an SMS that gives you a discount coupon to use at KFC for their signature buffalo wings. All good, except that you are a vegetarian and the coupon goes straight to the deleted items folder. Airport retail and location based marketing is real but without the right customer data to back it up with, things can often go wrong with this blanket marketing to anyone who passes by the store.

Now what if the airline had shared this data with the airport (dietary preference is one of the most basic passenger data most airlines collect) and then the airport used it to smartly target a promotion from a salad bar instead of KFC. Or what if the airport knew you had 3 hours to kill while you wait for your connection and lured you into a more relaxed dining center, maybe a massage or a lounge. As revenue models for airlines change, the data they sit on for each passenger can yield a treasure trove of insights for themselves as well as their partners if used and shared in the right manner. It opens up a symbiotic relationship between the airline and the airport, where passenger experience at the airport plays an equally important role as it does onboard an aircraft and airlines would like to drive more passengers via a particular airport over another.

Much of the challenge in sharing this data today is around integrated systems between airports and airlines, the trust each has with the other on how the data would be used, the integrity of the data and most importantly, fiercely guarding it from competition.  At airports that are exclusive to a single airline this is easier to implement but a majority of the airports with disparate systems even within their own IT infrastructure, this can be a huge transformation effort. Some of the advancements that is beginning to shape this vision leveraging an interconnected airport bringing together all the systems of an airport under a single command and control center. Add to that linkages to airlines customer databases and analytical engines and we may just have a precise answer to the question: “Who do we serve?” and taking a step ahead, “How do we serve?”

Targeted marketing and smarter commerce is here to stay. So how do you want to surprise, delight and turn your customers into advocates for you?

Associate Partner, Global Strategy & Watson Leader - Travel & Transportation

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