4 takeaways from the think future conference

A few weeks ago, our team headed up to Hamburg for two days of inspiring discussions and networking at Think Future’19. Think Future, also known as Hamburg Aviation Conference, is a premier industry event that centres around innovation in aviation and travel. Industry thought-leaders from airlines, airports, rail and hospitality gathered together to exchange views on the latest trends, ideas and technology developments in the current dynamic environment. Here are a few interesting takeaways this year:

#1 The importance of being a “data-driven” organisation

In today’s increasingly competitive travel marketplace, it is essential that travel retailers ensure their business processes and technology platforms are ‘data-driven’. The most successful retailers will be able to access, visualise and generate insights from vast amounts of data in order to make strategic, tactical and real-time decisions to gain a competitive advantage. Due to the increasingly sophisticated nature of data-driven decisioning (e.g. machine-learning), it is crucial that retailers have platforms that allow them to experiment efficiently: fail/succeed fast, improve, repeat.

#2 Challenge of innovating the airport experience

Airlines and airports are still failing to work together to provide travellers with an engaging and seamless ‘airport’ experience. There still seems to be a lack in common understanding about the gaps in the customer experience leading up to the day-of-travel, and even less collaboration to address these gaps in a mutually beneficial way. Some airports have said that this is partially the result of the numerous technology, operational and regulatory constraints they face as a business. Despite this, there are some good examples of startups and some airlines who have been trying to solve specific problems on their own – e.g. Vueling’s trial facial recognition technology at BCN airport to speed up boarding at the gate, or Grab’s at-airport food ordering app.

#3 Growing adoption of NDC-based distribution

Despite the many NDC naysayers, there are increasing proof points from airlines showing the success of their NDC initiatives. For example, the Lufthansa Group has 100+ third parties, such as agencies and brokers, actively using their API today – alleviating somewhat the fear that these partners would avoid NDC due to the cost of having to integrate with multiple airlines. Modern PSS providers (e.g. IBS, Interes) are bullish about the speed at which they can help airlines introduce new products via their NDC-enabled platforms (e.g. “in minutes”), relative to the legacy PSS providers.

#4 Blockchain – trough of disillusionment?

The fact that blockchain was hardly mentioned during the conference discussions seems to imply that at least perception-wise, blockchain for airlines has fallen sharply off the Peak of Inflated Expectations and into the Trough of Disillusionment. Which we think is a good thing – Enlightenment and Productivity are on their way!

How can Branchspace help your business?

At Branchspace, we empower travel companies to excel in digital retail. Since our founding, we have worked with numerous travel providers, including airlines, to help them build and deliver best-in-class digital transformation programmes and e-commerce retail solutions. By bringing deep industry knowledge and broad business and technical capabilities, our team of technology experts and data scientists can help you transform your digital channels and gain a competitive edge through leveraging cutting-edge technology, data-driven insights and industry best practice. Click here to learn more about our services for airlines.