At this year’s IATA World Passenger Symposium in Barcelona, innovation in the aviation industry was at the heart of discussions.  But when BBC anchor Aaron Heslehurst asked a panel of experts where that innovation will come from, the answer was – the consumer.  “If you can’t give consumers what they want, they’ll go and get it somewhere else,” said Aidan Brogan, CEO, Datalex.  And when Festive Road’s Paul Tilstone travels, he says he is currently torn between choosing loyalty or experience.

And it’s not just during travel that innovation needs to happen – it’s before the trip even begins.  A new piece of research announced by Sabre today found that travellers are spending an average of 3.5 hours finding the perfect flight – in many cases longer than they spend actually in the air.

The new research highlighted the complexities of flight choices available to travellers today, accentuated by airlines increasingly unbundling their fares and selling a wider range of extras.  It’s a growing paradox – on one hand the choice is fantastic for consumers, but on the other hand it makes the search process longer and more difficult for them.


Next-gen retailing

It’s the traveller that is at the heart of Sabre’s next generation retailing and distribution vision, which the company announced at the event.  Kathy Morgan, VP product management and Stan Boyer, VP Airline Solutions took centre stage in an interview with Festive Road’s Caroline Strachan to speak about the company’s plans to develop a solution in 2018 that will use data to help airlines understand their customers, offering them specific trips based on their individual needs.  This will help travellers cut through the clutter, and reduce the time they spend looking for the ideal trip.

“There are almost 10 billion connected devices globally,” Kathy began.  “And this number is expected to grow five times in the next three years.  In fact, over the next decade, almost half of global consumer purchases will take place via connected devices.  This, coupled with the increase in choice available to consumers, means it’s more important than ever for airlines to extend their digital reach to new channels and deliver distinct experiences to their customers.”

It’s clear there is a huge opportunity to help airlines in both the retailing and distribution spaces.  Sabre expressed its support for NDC, but said that the real innovation will be outside of it.

“Ultimately, NDC is about enabling personalised touchpoints and flexible distribution across the customer journey to drive brand loyalty,” said Stan.  “However, our marketplace and extensive solutions give us the ability to go a step further, delivering an end-to-end enhanced NDC solution, from offer creation to order fulfillment – across all channels.”

Sabre committed to delivering its industry-wide NDC solution in Q2 of 2018, along with becoming Level 3 NDC certified by Q3.