The airline industry is set to face the next wave of data deluge. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects around 7.2 billion passengers to travel by air in 2035, almost twice the 3.8 billion passengers in 2016. This means airlines’ interactions with customers will become even more voluminous and complex, generating massive amounts of data.

For sure, airlines will find it even more challenging to systematically store, assimilate and analyze all of this information. However, if carriers get this bit right, they can gain deeper insights into passenger preferences, further streamline business processes, and obtain a clearer, more holistic picture of factors driving sales. Such a granular understanding of commercial operations can help airlines cater to their customers better, boost agility amid dynamic market conditions, and maximize revenues. But there’s turbulence in the air!

Airline commercial functions—including sales, network planning, pricing, revenue management and scheduling—often operate in silos, working with their own versions of the ‘truth’. As a result, there is no unified view of data, which hampers organizational efficiency, drags down service quality and results in revenue leakages.

An integrated commercial planning and analytics platform, which provides a consistent and accurate view of data across functions, can address this problem. Such a platform can help companies boost their turnover by delivering the following benefits:

Superior Sales Analytics: Gain insights into a number of metrics including Point of Sale (POS) performance, cost of sale, agency performance, class mix and partner performance. Rapidly respond to changing market conditions by tapping into intelligent triggers. Also, track the buying behavior of customers to design tailored promotions, and then monitor the impact of such initiatives on actual sales.

Higher Revenue Integrity: Proactively monitor and analyze revenue leakages that could result from various sources, including unintentional or deliberate Reservation Booking Designator (RBD) violations. Deploy an intuitive decision support system to drive decision-making that is focused on both revenue creation and protection.

Enhanced Revenue Management: Monitor daily revenue performance across multiple functions and support the forecasting capabilities of revenue management systems. Achieve total revenue optimization by moving away from the traditional revenue per seat model to optimize revenue per passenger.

Robust Channel Strategy: Fall back on comprehensive information on channel mix, cost of sale variance and agency mix to understand their implications on revenue generation, and optimize distribution. Analyze the traffic mix to make better-informed decisions on pricing, network changes, inventory management and demand analysis.

For best results, a commercial planning and analytics platform should include a wide range of decision-support, data visualization and analytical tools, and a cloud-based, big data repository to store and mine information. The platform should also be compatible with the airline’s reservation, revenue accounting and management systems, and offer cross-device support for decision making on-the-go. Additionally, enterprise users should be able to access accurate reports and dashboards capturing key performance indicators, trends and other relevant data in real time.

Aviation has always been a tough business to be in, characterized by complex operations, low profitability and high customer churn. And things are not going to get any easier in the digital era, with empowered customers demanding even more value for their money.

Cracking the customer expectation code will require airlines to, among other things, constantly innovate around their commercial planning setups, and make these more productive and responsive. Adopting an integrated commercial planning and analytics platform to standardize vast volumes of data, and deriving meaningful, time-bound analytical insights, will go a long way in helping carriers crack that code.

To know more about WNS’ Commercial Planning Suite, click here.

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