Imagine someone planning a vacation. Think of them as late 20s or early 30s, looking for a relaxing week at some tropical getaway as a respite from their 9-5 job.
Is that person you imagined calling an airline booking agent to ask for the best flight? Are they then calling a hotel to book a suite and calling individual tour guides to schedule vacation activities?
If you’re imagining a traveler in today’s age of modern retailing, that mental image likely looks much different. The consumer probably started by seeing a destination being featured on social media or received a targeted ad pushing low flights to exotic destinations. They likely used an app to search flight availability and pricing from their home city, or they Googled “cheap flights from Chicago to the Caribbean” or “best beach vacations in November.” And just like when they go online to purchase clothing or any other goods, they expect their search to be quick and to bring them the relevant products and services they’re looking for on the first page, with an easy checkout process they can complete right on their phone.
Airlines that aren’t providing potential customers with dynamic offers when and where they want them could be missing out. Modern consumers expect retailers to provide a seamless bridge from immediate inspiration and personalized shopping to smooth purchase and travel experience.
Legacy system problems
Legacy reservation and booking systems are unable to handle the dynamic decisions and new products airlines are looking to sell, and they’re hindering airlines’ ability to introduce new suppliers and products to the market by slowing the time to market or forcing airlines to go through multiple middlemen to build offers.
Many airlines are still stuck working with Global Distribution Systems that determine where to distribute products and pricing while taking a cut of the profits, or they’re using a PSS that owns the distribution channels directly. Because these technology players are providing software on both the airline and agency side, they have no incentive to join the modern retailing revolution.
Meanwhile, Passenger-Name-Record (PNR) and legacy Passenger Service Systems (PSS) make building and managing packages with non-air partners difficult, with outdated concepts like filed fares, fare families, and e-tickets/Electronic Miscellaneous Documents/PNRs hindering agility. Plus, legacy pricing and forecasting systems are still using spotty historical data to provide pricing for a market that cannot compare to that of just a few years ago.
All of this means airlines are struggling to build dynamic, personalized packages and distribute them across channels.
Offer and order management systems
The solution? New offer and order management systems that enable airlines to sell what they want, where they want, how they want, and to whom they want. This includes partnerships with other airlines as well as non-air retailers, pushed out into any direct or indirect channel the airline wants to utilize.
This modern retailing approach is already in place in other global industries, where advanced Artificial Intelligence technology analyzes online customers and targets them directly with products that fit their needs. But airlines have been slow to adopt this new way of selling and fulfilling.
Transition to modern retailing
So how can airlines transition smoothly to modern retailing? The key is in timing, channel selection, and unconstrained selling. Airlines must deploy new ancillaries, packages, and third-party content within hours, not days. This includes premium seating, baggage upgrades, in-flight selections, and post-trip additions such as rental cars, hotels, and more. Product catalogs that house all stock keeping and enable easy bundling based on customer segmentation are key to these dynamic offerings.
They also need to be able to distribute these offers across any channel quickly, based on their own discretion, using channel-agnostic services that won’t determine who sees what offers at what price.
Airlines must move beyond the siloed pricing and segmented order system in use today to establish a single source of truth for product, pricing, offers, and orders. This allows the airline to easily build dynamic, continuously priced bundles and manage and settle all parts of the order efficiently, while also improving experience for the customer.
Because not all industry partners and third-party providers will shift to modern retailing simultaneously, new offer and order systems must also have legacy compatibility with not only internal systems and solutions, but also with partner providers like GDS, Central Reservation Systems (CRS), Online Travel Agencies (OTA), post-flight third-party partners, and airport systems. This ensures a smooth transition that allows airlines to move to ONE Order without a revenue-compromising “big bang.”
FLYR’s offer and order management solution
FLYR has your airline’s answer for modern retailing through offer and order management. Our solution enables you to build dynamic offer bundles that include all parts of a trip, including pre- and post-flight add-ons, and offer them in the channel of your choice to any customer based on deep learning AI algorithms that provide more in-depth customer insights and segmentation. Those offers are then fulfilled across all partner providers using the same order number, allowing easier customer order management and more efficient airline settlement.
FLYR’s modern retailing offering is backwards-compatible with your existing solutions and with partners still using legacy distribution systems, allowing you to ease into adoption without disruption while you move forward to the future of modern retailing, going to market with new products – or partners – in a matter of days or even minutes, not months or years.
FLYR is making modern retailing for airlines a practical reality instead of a future promise using 21st-century technology and a partner-first approach to building scalable, future-proof solutions that meet leading industry standards with fewer dependencies.