The growing list of achievements and innovations in the rapidly changing airline industry reflects well on its employees, writes Byron Calmonson, director at The Resourcing Hub.

You can access the article on the Airline Business website.

Marketing guru Shashank Nigam wrote in Flight Airline Business‘s October 2016 issue about the strategic advantages of hiring outsiders into the airline sector. I absolutely agree that it is important to continue to attract and retain talent from outside the walls of the industry. But aviation professionals should also be confident in what they are doing and how other industries view our sector.

Having spent many years working with aviation clients, I have seen our sector transform dramatically, and today’s aviation professionals should be very confident about the industry’s future as well as their own market value.

The aviation industry has experienced significant growth and change during the past decade, and while it still has to contend with difficult challenges such as security and data, these are very exciting times.

New entrants, and perhaps low-cost carriers in particular, have caused positive disruption in the market. We have seen extraordinary technological innovations as well as continuing enhancements to the passenger experience.

COMMON GOALS

Industry players have worked hard to join forces between businesses on key technology programmes. One example is the creation of a common IT infrastructure at leading airports such as Los Angeles, Dubai and Heathrow. This reduces the amount of duplication and is technically, as well as commercially, more efficient. It also means that these airports have gained more control and are less reliant on technology integrators and vendors.

The industry has become much more customer centric and there is now an expectation among travellers that they should be able to perform tasks such as flight bookings, seat reservations and ancillary purchasing on their own devices. Passengers expect airlines to be available at all times, across the communication channels.

One of the most significant improvements to the passenger experience is the roll-out of self-service technology at airports. The new technology has been introduced to make the airport experience smoother and more efficient, as well as cost effective.

In addition, to improve security screening, airports are gradually introducing biometric technology to verify the identity of not only passengers, but also airport and airline employees.

“Aviation professionals should be very confident about their own market value” Byron Calmonson director, The Resourcing Hub

Airlines have invested in technology such as apps and travel disruption updates that passengers can access on their smart phones or other devices. Today’s travellers expect constant internet connectivity, and while most airports offer travellers free, unlimited wi-fi, airlines have been slower to react.

Norwegian was one of the first airlines to introduce free in-flight wi-fi. Onboard connectivity is still mostly reliant on satellites and can be somewhat slow. However, at a recent aviation conference, I saw a presentation on ‘Li-Fi’ – internet connectivity through LED – so there could be some ground-breaking progress in this area soon.

Interaction with the customer is key, in particular in the event of travel disruption. New systems could give customers more flexibility and control, allowing them to make changes to their journeys when required.

EXTRA SERVICES

Many airlines have focused on ancillary sales by operating like online retailers and giving passengers the option to purchase “add-on” products or services such as insurance, amusement park tickets or car hire.

Ensuring strong ancillary sales is one way airlines can protect themselves, to an extent, against pressures on margins that changing market conditions such as rising fuel prices might bring.

Beacon technology and other “internet of things” solutions allow air transport companies, restaurants, retailers and others to target travellers with tailored offers during their journey.

Still, a significant challenge as well as opportunity for the industry is data ownership, and I predict that we will see further advances in regards to data management and usage.

From speaking to air transport clients, it is clear there is a real appetite for innovation and a desire to improve the customer experience even further.

There are plenty of reasons to be immensely excited about what the aviation industry has achieved and continues to achieve in terms of technology, customer experience and marketing.

Aviation professionals have every reason to be proud to work in this industry. But, as ever, they must not rest on their laurels.