Airlines are under pressure to implement technology that exploits data to improve passenger service and stave off competitive threats. But the characteristics of airline data, make that a difficult proposition.
PNRs use complex file formats that are hard to process and contain redundant. In addition, they only hold a snapshot of a booking at a certain time, meaning changes aren’t tracked and valuable history, that can be used for marketing or operational purposes, is lost.
The range of transactions and suppliers involved in air travel means data are held on different systems in different formats. It’s a time-consuming process to collect, clean and transform it for use in business intelligence applications.
Unlike other industries, the airline industry relies on legacy IT systems that haven’t been designed with customer centricity in mind. It’s therefore difficult to create a single, current, view of the passenger since different pieces of information — baggage, seat bookings, ancillaries — are in different places.
Finally, data synchronization between systems and processes don’t operate in real-time meaning information is disjointed and out of date.
The wider IT industry is looking to specialist data integration platforms, Gartner coined the term digital integration hub, to help simplify its use of data, but they're of limited value to airlines as they don’t really handle customer-related data consolidation.
Instead, the sector is looking to its own solution: Travel Data Agility Platform (TDAP).
Two of the main vendors — Sabre and Amadeus — have introduced platforms with some agility & integration functionalities, but those solutions have constraints :
- they’re built around their proprietary datasets and ecosystems and
- are targeted at big airlines with large-scale requirements and budgets to match. Mid-sized airlines have different requirements.
A Travel Data Agility Platforms (TDAP) should have the following advantages:
PSS agnostic: the TDAP should connect to and exchange data with any PSS and with other airline systems.
Fast deployment: with built-in connectors to air industry standards, the implementation should be straightforward and quick — two months is a reasonable estimate for a mid-sized airline.
Customer-centric: the TDAP should make it easier to create a single, 360-degree customer view - a challenge airlines have always struggled with.
Flexible configuration: the TDAP vendor should be able to respond quickly to airline-specific demands such as the quick development and delivery of a unique workflow, or integration with existing analytical tools.
Attractive, simple pricing: aside from a large price tag, other vendors charge for individual features and applications, while smaller airlines want the comfort of knowing the product meets all their requirements, without expensive add-ons.