Skift Take

Consumers are starting to realize that the negative effects of our increasing technology usage are very real. Airline industry leaders recently discussed what this means for the experiences they offer.

Consumers and industry leaders alike agree that there’s been a backlash to how technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our daily lives. How does this affect how airlines engage both their passengers and their employees? Industry leaders set out to answer this question at Skift Forum Europe this past April.

The panel, entitled Digital Fatigue: A Threat or an Opportunity for Airlines?, was moderated by Rafat Ali, Skift’s founder and CEO. Rashesh Jethi, Amadeus’ head of innovation for airlines, Tobias Kruse, business design director, EALA region at Fjord, and Daniel Kerzner, VP, customer experience at Virgin Atlantic Airways, provided their insights.

As Kruse explained, companies should think about tech and digital as enablers of physical experiences. Jethi agreed, explaining that “more and more, we’re seeing people turn to the ‘real world’ to escape the online world.” He reminds us that airlines have one of the largest physical footprints of any industry –– meaning the industry has a real opportunity to address this issue head on and integrate digital into the physical.

For example, Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected on their flights, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on the passenger. However, it also empowers employees and enhances the customer experience. Kerzner explained how digital helps Virgin’s on-flight staff to connect with passengers, often in invisible ways. It also allows customers to create physical experiences that are unique to their individual preferences, whether that’s through adjusting the lighting around them or the comfort of their seat. He encouraged that leaders in the airline industry look to other industries for ideas on how to apply technology to help solve the challenge of digital overload.

Watch the full discussion below.

The discussion continued with a panel entitled How Airlines Today Are Combating Digital Fatigue. The panel was moderated by Rafat Ali, Skift’s founder and CEO, who was joined by Maria Lumiaho, head of digital service design at Finnair, Guido Haarmann, vice president & managing director, Central Europe, Airlines, of Amadeus IT Group, and Stephen Ferneyhough, managing director, global lead, travel industry, at Accenture.

Ferneyhough explained that while technology does need to be managed correctly, it can empower airlines to provide passengers with a frictionless experience through booking, check-in, the actual journey, and return home and help airlines assist customers in real time.

The ability to efficiently scale, measure, and analyze customer data is another way technology has transformed the industry. However, personal data management needs to be balanced correctly. As Haarmann explained, “In order to be able to use that data, you have to earn the customer’s trust. You need to prove the value behind it. The better we do this, the more data we can expect.”

According to Lumiaho, Finnair is already doing this. “We’re starting to create and curate experiences for travelers that are suited to their personal needs and preferences.” That can range from offering Finnair’s premium customers the option to purchase flights with Apple Pay, alleviating the pain points of inputting personal information, to giving them the ability to customize their in-flight experience through different ancillary services.

Watch the full discussion below.

At this year’s Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, travel leaders from around the world gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation. In September 2018, Skift will hold its Skift Global Forum in New York City. Get the details and register here. We’ll also be hosting our Air Pitch Startup Competition 2018 at Skift Global Forum! Have an aviation-startup? Take it to the next level by participating — learn how to apply here.


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Tags: Accenture Amadeus Alliance, airline passenger experience, sfe2018, skift forum europe

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