Flying towards the future: Key takeaways from the World Passenger Symposium 2023

December 21, 2023

The aviation industry is experiencing a dynamic transformation driven by technological innovations and evolving passenger expectations. The World Passenger Symposium (WPS) is a flagship event in the aviation calendar, converging airline retailing, finance, and customer experience to share insights, explore trends, and unlock the strategies that will shape the future of air travel. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key highlights from the symposium and explore how Globant plays a pivotal role in revolutionizing the airline industry.

Customer centricity remains the North Star 

A major focus of the symposium discussions centered on the importance of customer-centric solutions. Airlines increasingly recognize the value of personalized experiences, from tailored in-flight services to targeted promotions. “If you don’t focus on the customer, there is no value creation,” says Gonzalo Cadenas, VP of Technology at Globant. 

Two out of five people have been discouraged from traveling due to immigration requirements, and 83% of passengers would share immigration data to streamline the airport process. This is the opportunity for airlines to harness passengers’ willingness to share information to create customer-centered experiences that enhance passenger satisfaction and drive loyalty in an industry where differentiation is key. The challenge is building a reliable and secure model where the passenger fully controls their data. The payoff can be tremendous, from encouraging more people to travel to reducing airport operational costs and positively impacting reliability and on-time performance.

From planning and booking to airport experiences, passengers want fast, user-friendly processes

The use of data may be the driver of change in several industries, including airlines, meaning security must remain a top priority. While 56% of users are concerned about losing biometric data due to data breaches,  75% would be eager to use biometrics instead of passports or boarding passes. This demonstrates an openness to using information to generate a better experience that airlines can take advantage of.

Reinvent processes

The WPS’s recurrent theme was the need for seamless collaboration, automation, and enhanced connectivity across the aviation ecosystem. To leverage digitalization and implement practices to provide users 100% visibility on their travel products and services, IATA established the Modern Airline Retailing Program. Modern Airline Retailing seeks value and opportunities through retailing models and an “Offers and Orders” system. 

The model is composed of four pillars:

  1. Offers. The adoption of this model has already begun with New Distribution Capability (NDC) early adopters. 30% of indirect bookings come through NDC, as it helps to improve connections between players in the sales process (airlines, travel agents, intermediaries, IT providers, or non-IATA members), optimize product delivery,  and enable better after-sales service by offering data transparency. 
  2. Orders. The ONE Order aims to gradually eliminate the need for multiple reference numbers and documents during a trip, such as current booking and ticketing records. This system simplifies the experience, benefiting customers, travel sellers, and airlines. 
  3. Settle. This pillar revolves around the financial aspects of the transaction, including payment processing and settlement. Airlines implement secure and efficient payment systems to ensure a smooth settlement process. 
  4. Deliver. The “Deliver” pillar encompasses fulfilling the products and services promised to the customer. This includes delivering a seamless travel experience from check-in to arrival, focusing on customer satisfaction. 

Settle and Deliver are particularly complex but indispensable for the ONE Order end-game, where the airline can be merchant-of-record for all the travel products (car, hotel, passes) that the customer wants to acquire and that can be purchased and managed directly with the airline.

Looking ahead: Digital transformation takes flight

A resounding theme at the symposium was the next steps, goals, and practical measures to reach digital transformation within the aviation industry. In this regard, it is crucial to go beyond the hype of digital transformation to generate real change. 

Gonzalo Cadenas reminds airlines that a true digital transformation starts with revisiting the mission statement and revamping a company’s work culture, rethinking and simplifying processes to build products that enhance user experience. 

Since the airline industry is a highly regulated and competitive sector, changes can generate high risk, causing traditional and obsolete practices to prevail. However, to keep up with the race for customer service, airlines must adopt a high-standard retailing mindset to make it easier for users to purchase, book, or change their flights. Furthermore, using data and adopting machine learning are vital to closing the gap between quality and cost. 

In addition, experimentation with different technologies to offer the user a centralized information system is one of the focuses for the coming years. Methods such as biometrics and digital identity, credentials, and documents allow the user to have complete control over their information, deciding who to share it with, when, and for how long. 

Globant’s role in airline industry transformation

Globant, with its expertise in digital and cognitive transformation, is at the forefront of reshaping the airline industry. We created the Airlines Studio for all the airlines that want to take back control, putting the passenger experience front and center in all strategies using artificial intelligence solutions and innovative tools.

Customers are demanding from airlines the same level of digitalization, simplicity, and effectiveness that other industries provide. These demands will only increase with every passing year and take leapfrogs as Millennials and Gen-Zs dominate the consumer demographics.

Our Studio helps airlines transform to be lean and digital at their core through truly customer-centricity, agility, data-driven practices, vertical integration, and the ability to react to the changing technological environment.

“We want to help airlines vertically integrate and regain control of their processes, their systems and their customers. We are in an era where intelligence drives us to new heights, and we are ready to assist airlines companies in their journey to digitalization.”

Gonzalo Cadenas, VP of Technology at Globant. 

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The Airlines Studio leverages our cross industry expertise to help a highly competitive and regulated industry reinvent. We drive digital transformation by putting the passenger experience front-and-center in all strategies to boost business