How do you stay ahead of a developing crisis when plans are changing, virtually by the day?
When will travelers return to the air and how will their booking behaviors have changed when they do?
What lasting change may we see once the airline industry finally reboots and returns to the air?
The answers to these questions lie within the data that surrounds navigating the now, recovering confidence and emerging stronger.
At Google’s Think Travel Asia-Pacific customer event (held at the end of September), Cirium’s CEO, Jeremy Bowen addressed these areas. He discussed what the data shows and how data can be used to help to weather the impact of COVID-19 and plan for change and innovation.
Navigating the now
Monitoring domestic and international flight schedules and flights tracked clearly shows how the domestic market has more certainty with China driving the domestic recovery globally and in Asia-Pacific. It also shows the markets with more uncertainty like Vietnam, which showed promising signs of recovery until July but dropped significantly in August and is now slowly recovering again.
Cirium’s monitoring identifies that recovery is still uneven and will be until the virus is more under control, and, factors external to the airlines will continue to impact flights, as well as consumer confidence. These factors go beyond government restrictions and quarantines, it’s also the impact seen to people’s disposable income for leisure travel, corporate profitability for business travel and the move to virtual working.
As travelers cancel trips due to fears around COVID-19, communicating enhanced cleaning and safety measures being implemented to enhance hygiene levels onboard is simply not enough to reassure customers. Just as airlines have successfully built air bridges between low-risk destinations so they must now establish new ‘communication bridges’ with customers.
Findings from a recent Cirium survey point to a heightened need to understand the change in traveler profiles—in the emotions and behaviors surrounding the pandemic—and to deliver informative communications around travel disruptions, waived fee updates, safety measures, and more.
The results of the survey revealed confidence among travelers is split down the middle between those who are comfortable to resume flying and those who are not, which reflects the polarized consumer audience now. The survey also suggests that booking last minute is quickly becoming the norm, as opposed to booking one-to-three months out.
At the beginning of June, 40% of bookings were still being made no more than three days ahead and normally, we would see 14% of bookings already booked by mid-year for the winter season, yet currently there are 0% of bookings for the winter 2020.
The industry has taken responsive actions to help reassure travelers, for example by waiving change and cancellation fees, giving credits and vouchers to travelers, information portals have been set up by airline alliances such as the oneworld Alliance, and new standard and guidance measures have been put in place by ICAO. However, this is not enough…
Today, it’s never been more vital to streamline pre-trip, in-trip and in-destination notifications through a single service, to avoid the risk of sending customers multiple alerts on the same trip.
Yet, too many airlines still have traveler communications touch-points running across disparate systems.
Not everything in air travel will change because of the impact of COVID-19, however the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for longer term and overdue change in certain areas of the industry. Cirium sees most change will be seen in operational flexibility, traveler experience, demand forecasting and consolidation.
Operational flexibility: Airlines will move from a six-to-12 month operations plan to planning six-to-eight weeks before a flight.
Traveler experience: Standardized communications to travelers and offers that are provided at set points in the travel journey will become more personalized. And, a refinement in notifications and relevant alerts throughout the trip and in real-time will occur.
Demand forecasting: Looking at only bookings and ticketing is not indicative of traveler behavior anymore, so airlines and travel providers will dig into sentiment and search. There will be more integration of data from social media, price comparison search and online search analytics.
Consolidation: There are still too many airlines in the world and COVID-19 will leave the world with a smaller airline industry. The pressure is particularly building for Asia-Pacific as the region’s market is more fragmented than the US, Europe and China.
So, in the midst of a global pandemic, what can an aviation data company tell you that you don’t already know?
With the right data to know exactly what flew, what a traveler can expect from a trip, where and when airlines plan to fly, how the industry is investing or the full picture across legacy data silos, businesses can gain insights to help accelerate digital transformation.
Spotlight on the new customer mindset
For in-depth Cirium analysis of the new customer mindset and expert insights on how to leverage enhanced data to build new ‘communication bridges’, download our new e-book: ‘Elevating customer engagement for the new traveler mindset’.
- How the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted and continues to impact the emotional mindset of travelers
- Why airlines must revisit customer profiles and segmentation and adjust and optimize messaging in terms of tone, level of detail, frequency, and timing to restore trust
- The confidence-building power of communication bridges
- Cirium’s expert view on how to harness the power of data to provide the right messaging, and give travelers the confidence they need to make informed decisions about their travel
At Cirium, we’ve enhanced our proactive traveler services to provide a 360-degree view of travel during COVID-19, so that customer journeys can be strategically designed around known trip experiences and hard data.
Our proactive traveler services now combine our best-in-class trip monitoring with destination-specific travel safety and health advisories.
Discover how Cirium can help you to reassure your customers and provide them with greater situational awareness in the form targeted and timely notifications, via a flexible suite of alerting tools and APIs.
Connect with us here.