It’s no secret that the airline landscape is more competitive than ever, but how to come out ahead of the competition has largely remained an unanswered question. Technology has been viewed as a saving grace and the key to optimal performance, and yet the lack of access to such exceptional solutions has prevented airlines from managing their business to maximum profitability. This is why the research report from Forbes Insights and Sabre Airline Solutions has been so highly anticipated. Slated for release on May 3, the report provides answers to these unanswered questions and explains just how instrumental airline operations are to a flawless passenger experience.

The missing link

The insights start with the nature of the report itself. In the survey, 100 airline executives from the top airlines worldwide identify the links between the customer experience, brand promise, operations, and sustaining profitability. The interconnectivity of these four areas is symbolic of the change that’s taking place amongst these leading airlines. They’re no longer looking to manage their business as a sum of many parts. There’s an growing understanding that in order to continue to compete the operating model must change along with technology, and prioritizing the investment in such technology is the place to start.

Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer at Forbes Media, spoke to the idea of competition through operations yesterday at the Sabre Airline Solutions Global Conference.

“Airlines are now more competitive in customer experience. In this context, airline executives recognize the crucial role of technology as a top enabler of operations and customer experience,” said Rogers.

The conference is taking place this week in Las Vegas. Rogers addresses some of the largest global airlines across Airline Solutions as part of an agenda packed with insights on how the future of the airlines starts with implementing the most cutting-edge technology.

His comments echo the idea of the importance of airlines to understand just how deeply the concept of solutions connectivity should permeate airline operations if they want exceed customer expectations and embark on the next generation of a brand promise. Bringing together disparate sources of data, seamless communications, the ability to anticipate instead of react - these are all crucial elements to successful operations management, and, as the report points out, business management overall.

Ducking the knock-out

For an airline to be truly competitive it must manage disruptions in a way that prevents the traveler from even knowing or feeling like a disruption just took place. Disruption management is an excellent case study for the importance of operational connectivity because it gets to the heart of what drives travel provider success today – the travel experience and the ability to take advantage of the innovation that has arisen over the past several years. Whether a blizzard or a broken beverage cart latch, delays and service interruptions are among the top sources of dissatisfaction for airline customers today This is a source of frustration for many reasons – missed connections, missed events and appointments, and the overall feeling that their time isn’t valued. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and the airlines who understand this will reap the rewards, as Rogers added:

“Collaboration is what drives transformation across multiple departments. Data is key to shaping organizational behavior. Real-time data insights, coupled with information available to the crew, helps to care on the passenger sentiment.”

Last one standing

The narrative of the executive summary and the statistical insights within it serve as a touchstone for any airline that seeks to run one business instead of many. This runs parallel to the expectations that the customers of any industry or sector have in the information age – that their service provider runs a business that follows them from the beginning of their journey to the end with limited interruptions in between. Over the next several years, these expectations will continue to rise. The airlines that place first will be the ones that choose to take off with them.

Bruce Rogers presented at Sabre Airline Solutions' 2016 Global Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.