We’ve all heard the saying ‘the house always wins’. In a casino, the games are designed so that the house (i.e., the casino owners) will always net a profit, regardless of the successes of the patrons. In the long run, the odds are stacked in favor of the casino, and the world-famous Las Vegas Strip is proof that even the smallest advantage – often just a couple of percentage points – is all it takes to realize a profit.  

I’m no stranger to the occasional trip to a casino. It’s fun and entertaining, and blackjack has always been my game of choice. I love playing and I do so in full knowledge that the moment I sit down at the blackjack table, the odds are not in my favor. But to me, blackjack isn’t about blind luck – it’s a game where strategy, data science and sound decision-making can help balance the odds or even tip them in my favor, increasing my chances of winning. 

For example, I choose a table with the best odds to maximize my upside. Many casinos on the Las Vegas Strip pay out at 3:2 while others only pay out at 6:5. The smart money plays at the tables with the better pay out. If I’m dealt a bad opening card and the dealer is in a position of strength, I’ll surrender my hand and forfeit half my stake since playing out a bad hand tips the odds further in favor of the house. Finally, I reassess my position when the opportunity arises, using all the available data. When I get the chance to double down, I re-evaluate to ensure I make a ‘dynamic’ decision that is most likely to result in a positive outcome. 

But what does all this have to do with airlines? How can data science help airlines tip the odds in their favor when it comes to creating compelling offers that convert into revenue? Data science and experimentation can give airlines a similar advantage when it comes to creating the targeted offers that travelers are looking for, and it can help them turn that advantage into bottom-line revenue.  

Play your cards right 

Gambling at a casino is a zero-sum game with clear winners and losers. Not so in the airline industry, where the application of data science can ensure that airlines, agencies and travelers all get what they are looking for. They can all ‘win’.  

As an airline looking to build compelling offers for travelers in a highly competitive market where travelers are presented with a plethora of choices, how do you ensure that your offer is the one that grabs the travel shopper’s attention and converts into an order? The answer lies in ensuring that it is the most relevant, personalized and contextualized – the one that most closely meets the needs of the individual traveler. Experimentation takes the guesswork out of offer creation and intelligent ‘bundling’ of products. Machine learning algorithms can help airlines ‘play their cards right’ by providing insights into what offers are most likely to appeal to individual customers, and therefore convert into orders. Just like playing blackjack, it’s all about having a strategy and using the data you have available to make decisions that achieve the best outcome. 

Powered by Google Cloud’s BigQuery data warehouse and best-in-class Vertex AI machine learning platform, Sabre’s advanced Multi Armed Bandit (MAB) testing can deliver optimal outcomes for airlines and travelers. It goes beyond the most obvious optimization/conversion maximization and enables Sabre’s airline partners to define for themselves what the different variables of the experiments should be. Variables could include air price, bundle price, bundle components and special offers. Success criteria could be conversion percentage, revenue lift or attach rate. Sound complicated? In fact, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3

Introducing sophisticated machine learning – infused with data science and experimentation – into the offer creation model will deliver competitive advantage for airlines and could see them optimize conversion and improve customer satisfaction simultaneously. Get in touch to learn more about what Sabre is doing to ensure our airline partners are maximizing their chances of success.  

And in case you’re wondering about the title of this blog…the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” is widely attributed to the gambling world where it’s used to celebrate winning – beating the odds. 

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