Show them you care.

chekin

After spending years training newbie entrants in Automated Ticketing, Tourism and Soft skills in the field of Aviation, Travel and Tourism, I can’t help but notice the customer service delivered to me everywhere I go, whether I am shopping, dining, or even travelling. I guess the trainer in me still has that ‘Hawk Eye’ when it comes to service.

Great customer service is the holy grail of any business. Competition in the marketplace has made it crucial for businesses to spruce up on not only their hardware but more importantly their software – aka employees.

Having said that, customer service training is and should always be the top priority in organizations having multiple customer touch-points.

JapanAirlines_PR

In fact service approach needs to be in the DNA of the organisation. Only if product, policies and strategies are designed keeping customer’s wellbeing in mind that a good service experience can truly be delivered by customer interfacing teams.

Today travellers are more demanding than ever. They have more power than they used to. They are smarter and have higher expectations than ever before. They are more up-to-date and better informed today, as technology has made it easier for them to do their homework.

Smart travellers – empowered travellers – know what options they want hence airlines, travel companies and hotels must be equipped to meet customers on their terms, when, where and how they want.

In the Aviation industry good customer experiences are of great significance. Customer demand is about meeting and exceeding expectations and making the customer feel special with a more personalized experience.

Emirates-Fly-With-Me-Monsters-1

For example; Emirates, provides the so called ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’, which enables cabin crew to operate with greater efficiency and provide a more heightened level of service to the airline’s customers. This technology enables the crew to know the customer’s preferences and issues that might have occurred during their previous travels thereby enabling the carrier to offer personalized service, unrivalled within the industry and for which the airline prides itself upon.

spicemax1

Closer home, SpiceJet provides a host of offers like ‘Hot Meals’ on board which is a paradigm shift for Low Cost Airlines. It is a great delight to customers, and a differentiator for the airline. ‘SpiceBiz’ the new Business Class offering at affordable fares, and a premium product called SpiceMax which has spacious seats with extra leg space, complimentary meal, Priority Check In, Bags out first, etc. – all at a nominal charge.

united-ibm-apple

Eventually the best way to retain your customer is knowing what they need. Courteous staff, ease at checkin /boarding, inflight service, are just few of the ways you can keep your customers happy. Airline Loyalty programs and club memberships offer exclusive benefits such as a complimentary pick up service to the airport and also at the final destination, or a Lounge access card at departing airports to its First or Business class passengers.

Unfortunately, complaining passengers are on the rise. They have complaints, sometimes frivolous, about their journey. A delayed flight for instance has the twitterati in a twist. Passengers start abusing and condemning the airline not realising the reason could be genuine for such delays.

Aircrafts are not supposed to be standing on the tarmac forever. They are supposed to ferry passengers in the air. Most airlines have a tight turnaround time and if the aircraft is delayed from the originating airport for some reason such as inclement weather or offloading the baggage of a gate-no-show passenger, this cartwheels into delays at further sectors.

But people have no clue about the intricacies such as time slots, availability of runways, crew rest coming into effect, and many other factors involved. Passenger safety is of utmost importance to any carrier. And delays are as much a part of air travel as on time performance.

In the past, when customers had a complaint, they’d speak to a gate agent or call the airline. Today, they’re more likely to post about their problem on social media, including Twitter and Facebook — which means the world is watching to see how the airlines react.

social media

Furthermore today the impact of social media trolls influences the passenger’s choice a great deal. It has therefore become crucially important to have a knowledgeable team at the helm of all Social media platforms, to capture the Voice of the Customer and provide quick, helpful, understanding and encouraging response and support, in a timely manner.

Airlines always keep trying their best to keep their customers happy. For instance, incase of a delayed flight of more than 12 hours, most airlines would offer a hotel stay until the next flight becomes available or rebook/transfer passengers to another airline, space permitting.

Air travel can be a confusing experience for a first time traveler. The customer service team must be able to convey timely and useful information to the passengers through their Apps, emails, WhatsApp, SMS, and other social media channels.

Keeping all customers happy at all times is as elusive as finding a unicorn. Providing flawless service, however, is not always easy.No matter how many customer service surveys are conducted, much of the customer psyche will forever remain of ‘yeh dil mange more’ !.

All said and done, in today’s world of competitiveness, service industry must invoke technology to couple training and fine-tuned SoP’s to deliver top notch, proactive and personalised customer service to keep their customers loyal.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Twitter;Bloomberg;SmartCitiesWorld;Emirates;Spicejet;Future Travel Experience;AfroMum

 

Aviation Cyber Security

aircraft

Security has always been the number one priority for all airlines.

Today with enhanced technology, airlines can improve the connectivity of their flight operations and air traffic systems to achieve optimal financial and operational performance. Improved technology also helps airlines to better understand and target their customers.

Things in the aviation industry are changing faster than ever before. Consumer demand for live in flight entertainment choices, and on board WIFI connectivity for mobile devices used for streaming, is increasing and major carriers are bowing to the pressure as companies need to follow the trend to stay competitive.

Cyber security risk is a major concern for the airline industry. Given the highly sensitive nature of flight systems and passenger data, it’s no wonder that airlines are very concerned with how to deal with cyber threats.

And as all this data is stored in cyber space, it gives cyber criminals and hackers more sophisticated technology to perpetrate attacks that can lead to loss of valuable data and cause chaos and distress.

Today most airlines are using Radio (VHF) and SATCOM to connect pilots with ground crews and with airport and Air Traffic Control, leading to greater efficiency, but at the same time it is also leaving a huge gap where they create greater opportunities for cyber attackers and hackers.

While airline security procedures have been effective so far, there are changes in the industry that are creating more access points for hackers including:-

efb

1)The widespread use of tablet-based electronic flight bags (EFBs); EFBs are particularly popular with pilots as they have taken the place of heavy binders that pilots used to carry onboard.

2) The expansion of in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems.

3) The modernization of air traffic control, which uses NextGen to improve network efficiency by using GPS (global positioning system) that is software based and connected to the Internet.

4) e-Enabled ground and onboard systems.

5) Cargo handling and shipping.

wifi

These threats need to be managed in a well planned and holistic manner with airlines closely cooperating with other carriers, hardware and software providers, along with airports, aircraft manufacturer’s and other industry stakeholders, as also their back-office IT, maintenance, operations, and consumer facing systems because failure in one area can affect others.

While an airline’s first goal is to prevent incidents, it is evident that threats in today’s environment cannot be entirely prevented.

hacking-detect

Overall, security procedures to date have been highly effective and airlines are trying to stop attacks from occurring both on the ground and in the air.

But without any uniform industry standards in place, each responsible airline has to consider how to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and how to deal with one when it happens.

plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

OS: PwC 2016 special report series: Cyber security and the airline industry.
PC: Shutter Stock; Aviation today; TTG Asia ;CTO Vision; Daily mail

 

Technology Trends that facilitate Smart Travel Experiences

cockpit

Technology is much like the Joneses- always up to something new. Frankly you just can’t keep up with it however much you try.

But the usage of technology is not new to Aviation. Back in the late 20’s a variety of technological navigation aids such as rotating lights or radio navigation aids would help pilots achieve a smooth and safe landing. Then towards the 40’s Instrument landing systems (ILS) used the best features of both approach lighting and radio beacons with higher frequency transmissions. Over the past few years many airports/pilots are using global positioning system (GPS) in addition to ILS. The GPS has become a primary method for navigation between airports and is exceedingly precise.

It is critical for the aviation, travel and hospitality industry to keep up-to-date with the emerging technology trends so as to nail the (CSQ) customer satisfaction quotient. Nonetheless, with such major breakthroughs in technology, it is playing a very vital role with its capability to increase the effectiveness of business operations and improve the customer experience.

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

IOT

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. (IoT) involves internet-based inter-connectivity between everyday devices, allowing them to both send and receive data.

To explain simply; Smart homes that are equipped with thermostats,  appliances, heating, lighting and other electronic devices can be controlled remotely via computers, Smart phones or other mobile devices, is a example of IoT.

Similarly IoT technology is being used in hotel rooms to provide customers with a device that connects to everything from the lights, to the heaters and air conditioning, allowing all to be controlled from one place. At airports, this may mean using sensors and sending information to passengers Smartphone’s, alerting them when their baggage is nearby and allowing them to locate it faster.

 Recognition Technology

biometrics

The technology includes finger print recognition, facial recognition, retina scanning and various other biometric identifiers. Such technology is already being used in some hotels to allow access to rooms via finger prints, or to allow for semi-contactless check-outs.

As the number of travellers grows, airports have started to turn to biometric technology. This speeds up various airport processes by allowing passengers to complete check-in and go through security or passport control without having to deal with a human agent.

 Robots

robot

One of the most exciting technological developments in recent years has been the increased prevalence of robots in hotels, right from text-based chatbots and robotic assistants, to security robots, being used on the front desk as customer information points. The main benefits are their ability to function 24/7, without needing breaks or motivation, providing greater consistency than humans would be capable of.

With a constant need to improve airport security, robots are being deployed in some locations to assist human security staff, for the purpose of detecting concealed weapons and other hidden items that are not permitted on flights.

Chatbots are used to guide customers through the online booking process, asking intelligent questions along the way for seamless travel bookings 24/7.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI-in-Airport

Perhaps the most obvious use is with chatbots possessing the ability to deliver rapid response times to problems or queries.

In fact, one of its most popular and effective uses is for gathering and interpreting huge amounts of data quickly and accurately, in order to draw conclusions about pricing strategies, revenue management, customer feedback from surveys, reviews and online polls, and even intelligently manage inventories, in order to build a clearer picture of current opinion, in real-time.

Blockchain

Blockchain

Although blockchain technology can sound confusing at first, it is actually pretty simple. Ultimately, it is a list of public records, where transactions between parties are listed or stored.

Despite automation, payments and settlements in the travel industry continue to be challenging and time-consuming. A complex distribution system, frequent cancellations and refunds, add to the operational challenges. Blockchain can bring in the seamless integration, agility and speed required between multiple players.

One of the most crucial aspects of blockchain technology is that data is decentralized and is more secure, traceable and transparent along with being resistant to modification and unwanted tampering. The decentralised nature of the blockchain means that information can never go ‘offline’ or be lost through accidental deletion or a malicious cyber attack, ensuring transactions are always traceable.

The travel industry relies upon different companies passing information between one another. For example, travel agents pass on customer details on to flight companies and hotels by way of overseas payment or loyalty programs. Blockchain makes accessing and storing important information securely and more reliably.

Airports use blockchain technology for tracking the movements of luggage, especially when dealing with international travel especially when the passenger uses multiple carriers and journeys to arrive at a destination. Using a decentralised database makes sharing tracking data between companies a lot easier.

online

For companies operating in the travel industry, it is essential to keep up with the latest technology trends. Understanding and adopting the trends allows the businesses within the travel industry to provide a better experience for the customers as well as aid in optimizing revenue management and overall business performance.

 

-Madhavi

 

PC-Future Customer; Airport Show; Hotel Technology; Digital Trends.

 

Green Skies

air-aircraft-airplane-728824

Did you know:  Two people flying in an airplane from New York City to Washington, D.C. create a carbon footprint of 472 pounds, while those same two people driving the same distance reduces the carbon footprint by half, to 229 pounds?

Every citizen desires clean air to breathe. As the high-travel summer season kicks off, let’s refocus on the environment, particularly ways we can make our travels a little greener.

While ground transportation is the single largest contributor to carbon footprints in the environment at 16%, Aviation is the second largest even though it accounts for only 2% Carbon emissions.

 Organisations like IATA, WTTC and WEF (World Economic Forum) are playing a stellar role in creating awareness and setting standards; while at the same time aircraft and engine manufacturers are evolving with newer technologies that burn less fuel. For instance; the easiest way to trim the weight off the aircrafts would involve the installation of lightweight seats. Seats made out of materials like titanium and carbon fibre, can weigh almost half as much as current chairs.

Airlines are constantly searching for ways to reduce their fuel consumption and also explore alternative fuels such as bio fuels. Responsible airlines like KLM, United, Lufthansa and our very own Spice Jet among others are testing flights with Bio fuel.

Bio fuels have the potential to bring about a step change in environmental efficiency – upto 80% less emmissions. The bio fuels, which can come from sources like natural oils, seaweed and agricultural waste, and through crops such as Jatropha; recycling household waste, used cooking oil or producing algae, bio fuels that can power aircraft could soon be used instead of jet fuel. This can help reduce planet-warming emissions from aviation.

What is needed now is a long-term multi-stakeholder approach for the further development of bio fuels to be a viable alternative. Only through a partnership of oil companies, airlines, airports and governments can research and development of bio fuels continue to make progress.

Also select airports mandate use of non fossil-fuel equipment, like electric/battery ground vehicles etc.

But along with major organisations we, as travellers, can contribute in many ways:

  • The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less often. But obviously that wouldn’t help, so the least bit you can do is take a non –stop flight. The more times you take off, the more fuel you use. According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 % of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle
  • Where possible, choose airlines that use newer planes as they are more fuel efficient, offer carbon offsetting, have a sustainability programme, and that are investing in more sustainable ways of flying.
  • Travel light. Each kilo that we carry less, including our own weight, saves 21 Kg of CO2 per domestic flight. So ease yourself at airports, rather than in the aircraft!!

 

Until planes can fly on solar power or wind power (or an equally renewable source of fuel) air travel will always have a carbon footprint.

If you want to do your part, limiting that carbon offsets might be your best bet.

Of course our planet will survive, by possibly knocking all mankind off in a few hundred years, and take rebirth in a new avatar. But for now let us now seriously consider about saving our children and theirs, from self inflicted evils like water scarcity, pollutants, noise and the like.

Do your bit for the environment.

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Juhasz Imre from Pexels