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Smoothing The Runway: Transforming Pre-travel Experiences With AI

The airline industry’s shift to generative AI is underway. Find out how you can use this technology to drive new efficiencies and deliver an enhanced, more personalized customer experience.

JUNE 09, 2023

There’s a 33% gap between customer experience and expectation in the airline industry – greater than any other sector in PWC’s latest report. It is a big gap to address. But generative AI is waiting to fill it, accelerating fast down the runway and getting ready to help a new, more tailored and efficient airline experience take flight.

ChatGPT may have catapulted generative AI – a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content from existing data – into the spotlight in recent months, but its potential to revolutionize businesses is much more established. Generative AI is already being deployed across a range of industries to transform processes, drive new efficiencies, and improve customer-facing functions. And given the expectation vs experience gap currently felt in the airline industry, this is a sector where generative AI holds huge potential.

Generative AI stands to add value across the board, from offer, to order, delivery and beyond, driving a better experience and optimization across the passenger and airline process journey. This first blog of a three-part series will focus on the impact of generative AI up to the point of purchase – and how it can help to turn data into actionable intelligence that can transform the strategic planning process and user journey.

Driving Efficiencies Under the Radar

Generative AI can help airlines take advantage of the swathes of data currently at their disposal, analyzing it at scale to unpick market trends, customer preferences, and other inputs that can be used to optimize operations.

In this sense, generative AI can permeate deep into the organization, enhancing processes and providing the actionable intelligence needed to inform business decisions.

For example, generative AI can:

  • Determine demand. Customer engagement with generative AI bots can be used to get a better understanding of marketing demand and to inform customer-specific segmentation. In turn, these insights can enable more informed revenue management and planning decisions.

  • Determine sourcing. AI can improve sourcing and enable simpler vendor onboarding, giving purchasing and business teams a deeper understanding of suppliers and their offerings. This not only streamlines back-office functions, but the benefits of improved sourcing can be passed on to customers.

  • Manage inventory and pricing. Generative AI algorithms can be integrated with inventory and pricing engines, offering real-time discounts on unsold airline seats to maximize revenue, minimize revenue leaks, and reduce under-capacity flights.

By bringing greater efficiency to core airline functions, generative AI can optimize existing processes which, of course, will also benefit customers. But this isn’t the only way generative AI can enhance the overall customer experience.

Smoothing the Runway: Transforming Pre-Travel
Experiences With AI

Enhancing Experiences at the Point of Purchase

When it comes to how customers interact with an airline, generative AI can be used to deliver excellent self-service experiences that not only meet – but exceed – expectations. And considering people spend nearly three times longer planning their trip than the time they will spend on the trip itself, offering a superior customer experience up to the point of purchase presents a great opportunity to build customer loyalty.

This can be broken down into five areas:

  • 24/7 customer care. Today’s customers are not confined by office hours. They expect to be able to ask and solve questions at any time. AI chatbots can deliver around-the-clock support to fit seamlessly with customer habits.

  • Intuitive support. One of the strengths of generative AI is its ability to learn and improve. It can understand behavior patterns around research and deliver a tailored experience based on this.

  • Fare quotes. With access to data across from the organization, generative AI can integrate with fare quote engines for enhanced travel planning and sharing options.

  • Purchase. Generative AI can further streamline the booking process through integration with order management and payment systems, enabling customers to progress their booking immediately.

  • Personalization. Airlines can leverage customer data and the power of generative AI to offer bespoke, personalized travel packages that speak to their needs and wants, enhancing their overall experience.

In essence, generative AI can help airlines deliver a comprehensive customer service that caters to the needs of each individual customer. By doing so, airlines can begin to close the experience vs expectation gap while also lowering operational costs.

Smoothing the Runway: Transforming Pre-Travel
Experiences With AI

From Data to Actionable Intelligence

The past few years have been tough on the airline industry. Covid-related barriers to operation, travel limitations, and then spikes in demand when restrictions lifted, resulted in a whole host of challenges. But those challenges have also led to opportunities.

Although fares are noticeably higher than they were pre-COVID to help combat the ill effects that the industry faced, generative AI can address the pain being felt by both airlines and their customers by focusing on the experience and using data to create tailored experiences for each passenger, giving them greater control. Especially as research shows 43% of consumers would pay more for greater convenience.

By employing generative AI throughout the entire organization, airlines can alleviate administrative burdens, plug revenue leaks, and transform the experience for customers. It changes the game. Airlines can hit new heights, squeezing the most out of the data at their fingertips and turning it into a real competitive advantage.

Ready to take advantage of generative AI to delight your customers and streamline your business operations? Let’s connect.

Hemal Shah

Sr VP & Global Head - Travel Solutions & Strategy

Hemal is passionate about helping the Travel & Hospitality industry solve business challenges through technology-led Innovation.

Hemal Shah

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