Digital transformation and the air travel experience


Luc Hennekens, Chief Innovation Officer at Qantas, says that truly knowing the customer at every stage of their journey is the key to weathering the changes the next few years might bring. And the way to do this is by delving into the data at hand to provide new insights.

The aviation industry has always had reams of data  whenever a plane takes off, it will generate terabytes of it. However, now Qantas can harness it in order to really look at how to make their customers happier and how they can be doing that more efficiently.

By discovering what makes their customers happy, stressed or frustrated, Qantas can take that information and use it to better their processes.

 A great example of this is the customer-focused technology, such as automatic check-ins and drop-offs. Hennekens says that now: You can walk in on a Monday morning, traditionally the busiest time of the week, and it feels like mid-afternoon Sunday.

Enhancing the customer experience also involves empowering people to tailor their own journey, and Qantas have been using an app to do this, so that their customers can find the best route to the airport and get real-time information about their flight.

And the future will be about about asking deeper questions of the customer and understanding that Qantas is just one part of a person’s travel experience. Knowing how they are going to get there, how often they do it and why they do it, will help Qantas hone their offerings.

It comes down to three things to do this, according to Hennekens, :

  • Breaking down departmental silos and encouraging collaboration by creating multi-functional teams
  • Fostering risk-taking
  • Ensuring that the role of IT can be a champion of change within this culture. 

Hennekens also predicts that flying as we know it will largely the same, what will differ is that airlines aren’t just competing with each other, but they're competing with anything that the customer may be spending their money on because emerging business, like Apple and Netflix, are changing what a customer requires from an experience.

In his words: We have to disrupt ourselves, rather than allow others to do it for us

CeBIT Australia Digital Marketing Report