The Global Travel Summit 2019 – Report

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OpenJaw opening session – Day 1

OpenJaw’s latest Global Retail Summit is themed around Re:Invent Retail for the Next Decade.

The event is taking place at the Sud Lisboa, overlooking the River Tagus. It is OpenJaw’s 11th annual summit and is established as the largest global event specifically for travel retailers to discover, learn, celebrate and shape the future.

Attendees and speakers from nearly 20 travel brands, mainly airlines but also hotels, loyalty schemes and OTAs. A large delegation from China reflects OpenJaw’s long-established presence in the world’s strongest aviation and travel market.

CEO Kieron Branagan’s opening keynote identified that “the airline industry has a margin problem”. One way to improve margins and profit per passenger is to retail across the entire trip, from inspiration to the return home. “So airlines need to think about how can I fulfil as many of my customers’ needs as possible,” he said.

Kieron Branagan, CEO, OpenJaw Technologies

All touchpoints across the customer journey are, he believes, an opportunity for airlines to upsell. But these opportunities have always existed – the difference now is that data science means that these upsells can be more targetted to the specific needs of the customer,  converting better as a result.

John Carney is OpenJaw’s Chief Data Scientist and explained some practical applications of his team’s recent. Its machine learning insights are being used by more than 50 revenue managers and marketing departments from OpenJaw’s clients. Brian Lewis. CTO, showed how the entire OpenJaw architecture has been re-written over the past few years

The reinvention of retail for the 2020s comes after strong end to the current decade. Brian Porter, Chief Commercial Officer, talked through some significant new customers, new platforms and new partnerships

Dr. John Carney, Chief Data Scientist, OpenJaw Technologies

TAP Air Portugal has selected the OpenJaw t-Retail Platform to power its NDC capabilities, delivering a full retailing experience across all channels and to all their channel partners. This coincides with IATA granting the t-Retail platform NDC Level 4 Certification, the highest-ranking certification available for IT vendors.

Three new airline customers in China have also signed up for t-Retail – Shandong Airlines, Air Guilin and Ghenghis Khan Airlines.

New products announced at the Summit include: OpenJaw t-Data Blueprint, a set of data tools and models for use by larger airlines with an in-house data team; an OpenJaw t-Data solution for NDC called NDC Analytics that integrates with the t-Data Customer Data Platform; and OpenSearch 3.0, which can handle the high look to book environments which NDC will create.

OpenJaw has also linked up with ATPCO and joined its NDC Exchange, a community platform created by ATPCO and SITA that enables API connectivity between airlines and sellers. A tie-up with 15below will give passengers the ability to contact airlines during disruptions via OpenJaw’s advanced AI-driven automated agent– in real-time.

OpenJaw is also partnering with Travelport to facilitate the distribution of OpenJaw NDC content to Travelport’s Smartpoint Agent desktop solution.

The challenges for the 2020s, speakers agreed, will continue to be around “digital, data and distribution” but driven by the continuing maturity of NDC and One Order.

Afternoon Session

Data was centre stage, literally and metaphorically, during the afternoon sessions at OpenJaw’s Global Retail Summit in Lisbon.

A panel moderated by Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research concentrated on the “value” of data. Julia Reichel from OpenJaw talked of how data underpins retailing, merchandising and personalisation, and the importance of having a customer data platfrom to deliver on this.

She also stressed that airlines needed to have an“identity resolution” process in place to ensure that all the various data insights on an individual were de-duped, or resolved, so that each individual had one entry within the platform.

John Carney added later that OpenJaw’s identity resolution algorithm has created 100 million single customer views, all held with customer data platform.

Behavioural science, or social psychology, was explained in a keynote from Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory. He highlighted a number of studies, some dating back to the 1930s, which remain relevant today.

His interpretation of decades of research, which resonated with the audience, was that “human choice is driven by processes which are easy, attractive, social and timely’

“Ease of use” is a driver behind OpenJaw’s advocacy and commitment of AI-driven chatbots. Andrea Cartwright explained that chatbot technology is developing quickly in response to consumer take-up of messaging. Pilot projects are live where chatbots are taking the automated conversations from service to selling. Connectivity between systems, driven by APIs, will continue to improve, generating even more use cases.

Customer-centricity another theme of the summit. OpenJaw’s new partner, 15below, has built up nearly 20 years of disruption management experience. Delegates were told that effectively handling a disruption could actually improve an airline’s relationship with a customer.

Pre-empting disruption is a business-critical issue for South African low-cost airline kulula.com. Kaitlin Earl explained that the South African passport – known as Green Mamba — was causing a number of issues which the airline was taking the blame for.

Kulula Green Mamba Passport

The airline seeing a high number of travellers being denied board or entry to countries because travellers were not aware visa requirements – one in ten complaints was about this. Customers were also not checking ticket rules upon purchase nor checking that their name was spelt correctly. It was able to address this by partnering with OpenJaw to overhaul the customer digital experience at its brand dotcom by changing how and when information was presented and asked for.

Day 2

The second day of OpenJaw’s travel summit in Lisbon featured a string of sessions reflecting the event’s theme – reinventing retail.

Henry Harteveldt, Atmosphere Research

A big part of reinventing retail is rethinking distribution, with many speakers hammering home that the major headwind airlines faced when rethinking retail was legacy mindsets, not the IT implementation and integrations.

OpenJaw’s Mona Kristensen argued that embracing NDC is the most effective way for airlines to future-proof their distribution strategy, suggesting that NDC conversations “should be about how we do business, not just about distribution”.

Mona Kristensen, Director of NDC Product Management at OpenJaw

Sebastien Touraine from IATA was another speaker who talked about the industry needing “to get beyond legacy mindsets and processes”. He is overseeing IATA’s dynamic offer creation, a relatively new concept which aims to change how airlines will retail in the near future.

Dynamic offers build on the modernisation benefits of NDC and ONE Order to unlock new benefits for airlines and customers around pricing and personalisation of flights and ancillaries.

Daniel Freidli from Travel in Motion moderated a panel discussion on the need for a change of strategy. He said airlines “need to be where the customers are and not expect them to come to where we are”. Customer-centricity was another recurring theme of the summit, and he suggested that airlines should accept “no-one flies just because they like flying, people fly somewhere to do something, to have an experience”.

Airlines which market the flight as part of an experience are best placed to increase their margin by retailing the components which contribute to the experience. Bryan Porter from OpenJaw said in a separate session that airlines are in a great position to sell the entire trip because most customers start with the flight and build the trip around that.

In his opening keynote, Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research outlined how customers were comfortable sharing data with an airline if they could see a tangible benefit. He said that 7 out of ten passengers want personalised offers, but less than 20% said they actually received offers that reflect their preferences.

Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research

He also highlighted the incentive for airlines to provide this  – travellers are willing to pay an 11% premium for something that matches their interest. But he also noted that airlines needed to focus on personalising segments, rather than aim for one-to-one marketing, a practice he suggested will not be around for at least ten years.

Data was another recurring theme. CEO Kieron Branagan brought the summit to a close by reminding delegates of some of the numbers which had been presented over the previous two days. He reminded them that $6.62 is the industry average net profit per passenger, less than the price of a Big Mac in Switzerland; 41 million is the number of passengers boarded on OpenJaw platforms in 2019, with the biggest number of them all representing the value of digital commerce across all platforms in China – $1.4 trillion.

Kieron Branagan, CEO, OpenJaw Technologies