The airline industry has traditionally been at the forefront of embracing latest technology in order to strengthen their businesses processes and enhance customer experiences. The adoption of e-ticketing in the airline industry in the 1990’s, was a prime example of how technology adoption changes an entire industry and leads to a complete overhaul and re-engineering of business processes. And the next revolution fueled by electronic data is on its way (Skift, 2013).


Airline services are a highly competitive market segment. The wave of market deregulation and the subsequent advent of low-cost carriers have put high pressure on all players in the field. Given that the product of airline travel offers relatively little room for product differentiation, in-depth customer knowledge is ever more important. Big data has therefore been dubbed as the “next big thing” in airline travel. The term Big Data has become one of the buzzwords in travel technology over the past two years. It was coined to describe “a lot of data”, hence datasets that are beyond the capabilities of a typical database in terms of size and overall costs. In addition big data describes the techniques used for the extraction and interpretation of meaning from it.


The areas of application for big data in air-travel are manifold and have implication before, during and after the travel.

In the information search stage, big data can be used by airlines to enhance consumers’ e-commerce experience. Given that consumers search across devices and have high expectations, airlines could use big data to personalise landing pages to individual consumers, based on their previous search history.

Personalisation at the gate can offer a unique customer experience that allows an airline to clearly differentiate itself from its closest competitors. Appropriate personalisation efforts can be easily determined through capturing and analysing real-time data. This for instance includes sending a late running customer information about her gate straight to her mobile device, or providing priority boarding for customers that have been already travelling more than 12 hours .

While consumer are travelling big data can be used to transform and enhance the in-cabin experience. Armed with tablet computers, cabin crew members can identify high value customers, and thereby help developing new or maintaining existing customer relationships. The value of individual customer to the company could be driven by a number of factors, such as frequent flyer status, social influence or service recovery status.


From returning search results on flight prices, right through to arriving home after a fortnight away, the customer journey should be made as unique as possible. Managing and the many customer touchpoints through the analysis of big data provides unique opportunities to enhance the customer experience

Show more -->
© 2017 Digital Tourism Think Tank