How Will Intermediaries & Third Parties Disrupt Selling Travel?
If Airlines and intermediaries are to retain relevance in the overall supply chain, they will need either to adapt their models enormously or to forge deep associations with the channel of disruption at the marketing and sales/retail end of the spectrum.
These can be modified versions of existing distribution models or wholly new paradigms. Equity and otherwise, these liaisons will probably be with the same data organisations that are fomenting the airlines’ disruption, such as Google, Facebook, airbnb and others who will appear in coming years. In effect airlines will need to adapt to behave and act more like world class retailers if they are to avoid increased risk of marginalisation and commoditisation.
Yet even embracing the current, and future travel industry implies increasing marginalisation. For much of the world, travel has simply become one of a range of consumer options, interchangeable and competing with buying a new laptop or mobile device, going to dinner with friends, or to a football match. Understanding the changing and holistic nature of consumer behaviour just by analysing its own data is well beyond the range of airlines.
The massive new aggregators live and die on that data and are able to combine it with rich travel profiles to complement it; they will not be slow to exercise their power. In this respect even the most sophisticated data sets available to airlines from their own FFP’s are just pale shadows. When embracing a traveller’s “total” annual travel data picture, a single airline, partnership (or even alliance), can only touch one small piece of the jigsaw. For airlines to avoid commoditisation and marginalisation, they will need new pragmatic alliances that allow access to broader and new forms of data. What form these will these take – for example the profile of the other partners needed, who will dominate the partnerships – and even the very role that airlines will play, are all in the mix here.
It seems inevitable that these massive aggregators, who own more data on travelling individuals than airlines and intermediaries combined, cause airlines to lose control of pricing, revenue and yield, just as hotels have lost control to OTAs and HBAs.
Can airlines have any hope of emerging as winners in this data revolution? Innovation, thinking outside the box, will be critical. That will need management boards with different profiles, and new managements, who understand more about retail and data than about buying and flying big boys’ toys.
Even if it is possible, getting from here to there will be a massive leap. The debate itself will be a powerful disruptive force in its own right. This session seeks to determine the likely shape of the way third party will evolve.
Moderator: WebinTravel, Founder & Editor, Siew Hoon Yeoh
- Aeroflot, Deputy General Director for Strategy & Alliances, Giorgio Callegari
- CityJet, Executive Chairman & CEO, Patrick Byrne
- Datalex, CMO, Ornagh Hoban
- Flybe, CEO, Christine Ourmieres-Widener
- Malaysia Airlines, Group MD & CEO, Peter Bellew
- Travelport Digital, CCO, Fergal Kelly