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Two years ago, Lufthansa Group’s Digital Innovation Hub in Berlin created a platform called airlinecheckins.com that helps passengers check in for flights on more than 200 carriers. Customers tell the system which seats they prefer, and it automatically selects them at the earliest possible time.
Many customers are not flying Lufthansa Group’s airlines. So why does this technology benefit Lufthansa Group?
The answer, of course, is data. While there are limits— Lufthansa doesn’t obtain much information about individuals — the company is able to monitor broad trends, Chief Digital Officer Christian Langer said in April at Skift Forum Europe in Berlin.
“We get good statistics,” he told Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte. “What are the preferences of customers? Where do they love to sit most on the airplane? We get an average, and a good idea how how seat maps could look.”
That gives Lufthansa Group intel on competitors. But it also may help the group price its own product. Lufthansa’s low cost arm, Eurowings, charges for seats, and based on which seats customers want on other carriers at airlinecheckins.com, Lufthansa gets a rough measure of what each position on an aircraft is worth.
“At Eurowings, we charge for different seats, and this gives us a good idea how much people might be willing to pay for that,” Langer said.
Langer said the digital hub created the system for about 30,000 euros, or roughly $35,000 U.S., because its employees wanted to see what they could learn from the project. The innovation team works away from the Lufthansa’s Frankfurt headquarters so they can be more innovative then colleagues at the home office, Langer said.
“There was no automation behind it,” he said. “And then they saw that customers really loved it. Then we did the part in the back end and we automated it so we could get a professional product.”
Competitors have mostly accepted the platform, Langer said, but that doesn’t mean they like it. One problem: Check-in is an opportune time for airlines to make one last offer for customers to buy ancillary services.
“Everybody is afraid of losing the touchpoint to the customer,” Langer said. “Check in is a very good kind of checkpoint because it’s about 24 hours before the flight.”
You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Forum Europe.
At Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, Europe’s travel leaders gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.