Innovating in the Clouds: Why data-driven approaches are critical for airline retailing in 2023

Innovating in the Clouds: Why data-driven approaches are critical for airline retailing in 2023

Ahead of this year’ Arabian Travel Market, our Chief Commercial Officer, Brian Staunton, shares his thoughts on what’s changed in the industry in the last 12 months and how various technological advancements change the landscape in travel business.

Last year, I moderated a panel on travel technology at the Arabian Travel Market. It was a fascinating discussion about how far travel data has come, and what lies ahead. 

Brian Staunton, Chief Commercial Officer, Atlas

I’ve reflected on that conversation and on how the industry has adapted in the past year to the post-pandemic challenges and changing traveler preferences. 

The obvious technological advancements are in AI. This year, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s not heard of or at least tried out tools like ChatGPT and NotionAI. I’m excited to see more developments in this space, especially predictive data and insights that support travel sellers in making more aligned content and campaign decisions based on traveler behaviour. 

Cloud architecture has also evolved to levels of sophistication never seen before – containerization is now a key component enabling companies to build and deploy applications more quickly and efficiently, and to scale them more easily.

And scalability is at the core of airline retailing. It’s what we’re predicting will be one of the key drivers of success in 2023 as travel ramps up again. 

Data hasn’t changed but technology has – it’s more scalable, reliable and flexible. 

It’s easy for us to overlook the importance of infrastructure when we are so focused on content. But we need both to deliver the best customer experience and to gain accuracy and speed when it comes to search and data. 

Mary Li, Atlas’ Founder and CEO, says, “As travelers return to the market after years of more sophisticated purchasing on eCommerce sites and marketplace apps, their demands for speed and fulfilment will have increased. Airlines and OTAs will need better uptime rates, faster searching capabilities and more stability throughout the buying process to gain market share.”    

The travel industry is still plagued by legacy systems and processes and weighed down by centralized distribution models. 

Mary says today’s databases are worlds apart from previous versions, leading to improved calculation capability, accessibility and stability. 

That provides huge opportunity, and much quicker processing power. Big data has been around for years but it’s only now that we can truly capture and enhance its potential. 

Being able to process more data faster means real-time sales and marketing optimization. Such capabilities facilitate connecting the right routes, at the right prices, to the right travelers, at the right time. 

Real-time data insights can easily help deliver revenue uplifts by optimizing performance. Being able to process more data faster means real-time sales and marketing optimization.

Arabian Travel Market 2022

Why personalization matters 

Exceptional personalization relies on the most accurate and comprehensive data models. Again, this relies on next-generation architecture to capture, store, organize and utilize.’s Commercial Flights Director, Ashish Kumar, joined our panel discussion last year to share how they used personalization to encourage travel during the pandemic. Wego launched a tool that allowed travelers to explore where they could travel, based on where they lived, and their vaccination status. 

The program generated a great deal of data which was then analyzed to understand customers’ behavioral patterns – and enable to work on providing a more personalized experience. 

It created dynamic packages that combine airside products such as flights, seat selection and baggage, with different technology products. 

It is expected improved data collection will allow Wego to reach new customers and build loyalty with existing customers. 

As we know, that can be challenging in the flight industry. 

Why data is the way of the future for travel companies 

Another panelist, Johnny Chou, Chief Solution Architect at Alibaba Cloud, said travel companies must take every opportunity to ‘data-ify’ their exchanges with customers. 

Automation is fundamental. This enables efficient coordination of all actions and business processes online using historic and real-time data. 

That means using artificial intelligence, or deep learning technology to take advantage of live data in real time – and generate value to businesses, their partners and customers. 

Create an environment where innovation can flourish, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. 

Great data will help businesses get to know themselves, their customers and their competitors better, providing clarity around points of difference. 

Unfortunately, companies who are not able to dynamically package entire trips in one booking flow won’t be as successful, predicts Ashish. Consumers are looking to simplify their booking experience.

Is it worth investing in a robust data intelligence platform? 

For all the reasons above, the answer is yes. 

The right data intelligence platform can serve to support both customers, as well as internal teams. It enables smart and informed decision-making in real-time to capture your traveler and their preferences and serve them the most relevant content. 

But it relies on stable and scalable infrastructure.  Travel companies may consider building such data infrastructure and capabilities in-house – with significant resource investment, or they can consider partnering with the right people and simplify the process. 

Whichever option they decide, I have no doubt that this investment will not just aid their relevance, but also provide competitive advantage.  


This blog was first published at WTM Global Hub

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