Skift Take

Some sophisticated travelers like it when airlines embrace sophisticated personalization strategies, particularly when it means an airline will make a reasonably priced offer for something the customer values, such as an upgrade or a change to an earlier flight. But more casual travelers might find it intrusive. Regardless, personalization likely is here to stay.

Airline executives love to dwell on the revenue-producing potential of personalization — delivering the right offer to individual customers at the best time — but the concept is not so important to consumers, who fear an airline knowing too much about them, an Amadeus executive said recently at Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley.

“Usually, when we are talking about travelers, personalization wouldn’t be the word that comes in their mind first,” said Decius Valmorbida, president of travel channels for Amadeus, which operates flight booking systems used by many airlines.

Speaking to Skift Tech Tech Editor Sean O’Neill in June, Valmorbida said consumers are “quite worried about privacy,” and may fear a carrier would share their data with others, perhaps without their permission. But while they don’t crave personalized offers, travelers have other needs they’d like airlines to meet, Valmorbida said.

“They’re really after speed,” Valmorbida said. “They’re saying, ‘how can I have instant?'”

In addition, Valmorbida said consumers would more travel providers offer vacation packages, so they don’t have to go to one company for air, another for hotel, and another for a rental car. He said too many airlines pursue a “silo” approach where they only handle airfare and air-related ancillary sales.

Still, Valmorbida said he understands why airlines keep pushing personalization, adding he does not expect carriers to change their strategies because of consumer preferences. Many of Amadeus’ airline clients consider personalization “the holy grail” they can use to identify and retain customers, he said.

“Loyalty has become an expensive exercise” he said. “Going to the market and finding travelers every time on the spot market, that’s very expensive.”

He said providers such as Amadeus seek to give airlines what they want, while designing platforms passengers can embrace. “We’re always trying to find that sweet spot,” he said.

You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Tech Forum.

At Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley, travel tech executives gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.

For more details on the upcoming Skift Restaurants Forum and Skift Global Forum in New York City, please visit our Forum site for details.


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Tags: amadeus, personalization, stf2018

Photo credit: At the Skift Tech Forum in June, Decius Valmorbida, president of travel channels for Amadeus, said consumers are not so interested in personalization. But airlines still consider it the, "holy grail." Skift

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