How airlines can use passenger profiling to give customers what they really want

By Hélène Dubos | Technology

Dec 03

It’s no secret: targeted customer profiling allows companies to boost revenues and outcompete their competitors.

Researchers at McKinsey report that businesses which leverage customer behavioral insights outperform competitors by 85%. Many of the world’s leading online brands – think Google, Amazon or Netflix – profile customers and their behavior in intricate detail to offer the best, most relevant deals and content, meaning sales and loyalty are improved.

Given how effective this kind of profiling can be, it would seem an obvious step for airlines to invest in customer profiling too and use the extensive data they hold on their customers. Profiling would help airlines deliver targeted deals to different customer segments, discover customer behavior they may not even have been aware of, and improve marketing campaigns.

Let’s see how airlines can do this today.

What is airline passenger profiling?

The Business Dictionary defines customer profiling as: “A description of a customer or set of customers that includes demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics, as well as buying patterns, creditworthiness, and purchase history”.

In the airline sector, this would involve looking at the following kind of information:

  • Passenger spending patterns
  • Which routes passengers take
  • Which class of cabin they choose
  • How regularly they fly
  • What kind of ‘extras’ they purchase, if at all

But customer profiling is challenging for airlines

As we’ve said before, airlines collect enormous amounts of data on their customers, yet the way it is organized makes customer profiling very difficult. This is because:

  • Airlines manage bookings, not individual passengers. Multiple passengers can be found on a single booking, which means it’s very difficult to learn about the individual on that booking
  • Data pertaining to an individual -which would help identify them - or data providing insight about individual’s experience, are stored in different places – including reservation and departure control, baggage systems, flight scheduling, to name but a few. All this means that stitching together a profile of an individual customer is extremely challenging.

Conztanz’s new One Profiling platform helps airlines know their customers

What if airlines could really understand their customers? To know which routes they fly, how far in advance they book tickets, what their budgets are, what additional services they buy?
This would allow airlines to develop better marketing campaigns, sending specific offers to specific types of customers. It would allow airlines to respond in real time to any customer dissatisfaction such as flight delays. And it would allow them to develop a real relationship with passengers.

At Conztanz, our data scientists have been working on these questions for years and have developed our new ONEProfiling module as a solution. Rather than building your own Big Data and analytics platform in-house, ONEProfiling provides your airline with a sophisticated tool with smart algorithms that help you rapidly build up customer profiles spanning 80% of your customer base. ONEProfiling scours all your sources of relevant data to collect information on customer details, behavior, previous purchases and experiences to build profiles of individual passengers. It also helps you find clusters of individuals with similar behavior.

Overall summary of customer

Here are some of the kinds of scenarios that airlines can use the platform for.

Displaying only relevant additional services on sales sites

No one wants to be spammed with pages of potential ancillary sales when trying to buy a flight. That said, if a customer do always buys additional leg room or car hire, her or she may well appreciate receiving that offer during the sales process.

ONEProfiling can ‘remember’ a customer as they make their way through your purchase site and recall what they have bought before. This means your website can offer them an ancillary sale they really want – which avoids them scrolling past it as they wade through irrelevant offers they’re not interested in.

Building a dependable profile of a customer

Conztanz One Profiling uses sophisticated algorithms to build a complex and dependable profile of a customer, meaning you can drill down and get a real idea of who flies with you. This includes information such as:

  • Age, gender, location and other demographics
  • Most common travel type – business or leisure
  • Their most common routes
  • Contact details – including all email addresses and phone numbers
  • Personal in-flight preferences

Once you have a true picture of an individual, you can then begin offering them services which are relevant to them. What’s more, you can be certain you’re contacting them on the right email address too.

Learn how people book flights with you

ONEProfiling helps you get a much clearer idea of how passengers book flights with you – whether directly through your website, via a travel agency or through a third-party site. This kind of information can prove immensely useful. If a business is buying all its employees flights through a third-party travel agency for instance, you can approach them directly with better offers.

Sales channels use by consumer to book flight


Traffic density by destination

Passenger perks and compensation

ONEProfiling is highly flexible, allowing you to discover a huge amount of information and act accordingly, and this is very helpful for offering a more personalized experience to passengers.

Say it’s a customer’s birthday on the day they are flying with your airline – ONEProfiling could be set up to bump them up to business class as a birthday gift. Or, if a passenger has been delayed with you more than two times this year, One Profiling could help you send an automated apology and an invite to the airport VIP lounge.

Discover passenger clusters

ONEProfiling is especially adept at helping you identify clusters of passengers based on a wide range of behaviors. It’s easy to find and create meaningful customer groups – such as 18-25 year-olds Europeans who fly once per year to the USA on holiday, for instance – and then build marketing campaigns targeted at them.

Differentiate customers by behavior

Customer behavior tags

Ranking of customers among full database

ONEProfiling uses tags to help you discover different kinds of behavior among your customers too. This might include regular high-spenders for instance. Or customers who fly once per year and book their flight months in advance. Or individuals who buy multiple ancillary services – or those who buy none at all. ONEProfiling can provide deep customer behavioral insights

Outcompete your competitors with passenger profiling

Due to the way airlines collect data, it remains extremely challenging for the aviation industry in general to build reliable and relevant passenger profiles. However, we believe that ONEProfiling offers the sector a real breakthrough – a platform which intelligently builds reliable profiles of your customers that you can use to make smart marketing, sales, and operational decisions.

From retail to entertainment to hospitality, today’s industry leaders are turning to accurate customer profiling to boost engagement and increase sales. And now these same capabilities are available to the aviation industry too - which opens up a world of opportunity for airlines and passengers alike.