Airline retail technology firm Datalex has revealed the digital retailing priorities of 150+ airline executives and the digital retail expectations of 10,000 travellers from 10 countries worldwide, including Ireland, the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
A key finding is a "digitisation gap", highlighting an expectation disparity between airlines and their customers. Just 11% of the 10,000 end-travellers surveyed believe airlines are ahead of other e-commerce providers like fashion brands and other online retailers in terms of modern online retail. However, on the other side of the coin, 24% of airline executives believe they are ahead of other e-commerce websites, 17% believe that they are at least on-par, and just 16% think they are behind.
Additionally, travellers are seeking out clearly communicated and clearly priced offers and ancillaries to add to their flight bookings, with 70% of travellers more likely to purchase if several products are bundled together. Loyalty and payment innovation are high on the agenda for travellers, with 75% of travellers surveyed most likely to prioritise the use of loyalty points as a payment method for travel, while 53% are likely to use buy now pay later (or similar) payment methods, and 48% are likely to use Apple Pay.
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34% of those surveyed indicated that they would likely use cryptocurrency as a method of payment for travel. Respondents based in the US were most likely to indicate an interest in using cryptocurrency as a payment method (73%) followed by Brazil (57%) and Argentina (50%).
Travellers are also more aware of their carbon footprint than ever before, expecting airlines to provide carbon off set ancillaries, with 42% of the travellers surveyed willing to pay more for a flight with an airline with better sustainability credentials.
To achieve the retail modernisation expectations of their customers, the airlines surveyed have indicated plans to kick-start the initial shift away from the PSS in the next 1-2 years to realise the future of "unified offers and orders". Loyalty programmes remain a top priority for airlines, with 63% of airline executives noting that loyalty initiatives and their associated value have increased in their estimations over the last 12 months. And 93% of airline executives surveyed said that AI-powered pricing has or should have a role in their airline.
The research was conducted by independent international research agency Censuswide.
Commenting on the research, Bryan Porter, chief revenue officer at Datalex, said, "It's clear that 2023 represents a unique inflection point for the airline industry, as it is purported to be the first 'normal' year post COVID. Within this renewed opportunity and environment, airlines can move from survival mode to now focusing on travel retailing optimisations. Our research clearly signals the need and urgency for increased digital investment, demonstrates a more progressive airline mindset poised for innovation and a traveller profile eagerly awaiting the retail modernisation coming down the line."
Also commenting on the research, Conor O'Sullivan, chief product officer at Datalex, said, "Results outlined in this research very much support the key themes underpinning our product roadmap, such as the role of AI to power real-time pricing with 69% of airline surveyed believing that AI has or should have a role in the enhancement of current revenue management processes. The increased investment in NDC and also plans to move away from legacy technology. These are initiatives we are laser focused on in our product and technology strategy for 2023 and beyond."
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