Airlines around the world are searching for new ways to convert and upsell to customers from the moment they begin shopping to post travel and everywhere in between. Airlines that have invested in the necessary technology and processes to support these conversion and upselling goals will outsell carriers that have not by more than 30 percent.

A recent study published by IATA credits aviation as the industry that advanced e-commerce. Faced with decades of crippling and complex processes and systems, airlines welcomed the technology boom of the mid-1990s and began developing websites as a result of the growth of the Internet. These early websites became the first “virtual storefronts” for airlines and ultimately paved the way for airlines to have more direct access to their customers.

Having direct access to customers was significant 20 years ago, but it is even more critical today when considering that by 2017, digital travel sales will reach approximately US$166.4 billion in the United States. An article published by NASDAQ contends that Mexico, India, Spain, Italy and Norway are expected to have the highest shares of digital travel sales during the next five years, with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Italy being the fastest growers.

This mega-trend has airlines taking notice. Airlines globally are re-evaluating their distribution and commerce strategies, looking for new opportunities to convert and upsell to customers from their initial shopping experience through various touchpoints throughout their journey. Read the full story in Ascend.