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Passengers expectations: door-to-door travel and beyond

Continuous use of smartphones, social media, checking rather than planning, instant access and sharing; these concepts are becoming more and more common. To pass people on the streets who are looking down to their screens is already the norm. Do they have an app to sense and avoid obstacles? Travelling and commuting time are becoming social media, news update, entertaining and, even, working time.

People are getting use to have access to information when needed, and the sharing of personal data, in a conscious, an unconscious way, is continuous. According to IATA, 98% of passengers want to have wi-fi at airports; internet access is becoming a basic product, such as water or electricity. All these data can be exploited by business, and particularly by airlines, to provide tailored products that target travellers’ preferences, even when those preferences have not even been made explicit. This proactive behaviour will allow airlines to become passengers’ travel companions on the door-to-door journey; and even beyond that by proactively suggesting trips and giving information prior and post travel time. Airlines that meet these expectations stand to gain a distinct competitive advantage.

The sense of control that passengers feel, by being able to choose and check information on their screens, allows airlines to increase revenues by targeting relevant products, while increasing passenger satisfaction, as their needs, real or generated, are meet instantly and proactively. Information can easily be adapted to the different phases of the trip. Timely and accurate information can significantly help on shortening door-to-door trips, particularly in case of disruptions.

Airlines are offering different services such as SMS, mails, specific apps, etc. Whichever the mean of communication used, the level of interaction with passengers is growing, and this creates on the passengers a new set of expectations that should be fulfilled. Passengers will be identified in different profiles to be able to deliver the most relevant information. These profiles might evolve as information is generated. Work needs to be done to provide common standards to ensure connectivity and that the relevant information is distributed timely. Big data, cognitive computing, intelligent search discovery systems and natural language processing are the core of these data analysis; data which is mainly generated in an unstructured way.

I am still not completely sure which is the most worrying e-mail I have received this week: the one from an airline kindly reminding me that I have not go anywhere on holiday this year and suggesting exotic destinations, or that other one with discounted flights to the city where my next meeting is scheduled.