These days, players from across the bizav landscape, from brokers to dispatchers, FBOs to operators, are keeping a close watch on the impact new technology can have on their efficiency, customer satisfaction and, ultimately, profits. What should everyone look out for this year?
The statement “every company is a technology company” is becoming more and more true with every passing year.
These days, players from across the bizav landscape, from brokers to dispatchers, FBOs to operators, are keeping a close watch on the impact new technology can have on their efficiency, customer satisfaction and, ultimately, profits.
What should everyone look out for this year? Here are five tech trends that we think will shape business aviation in 2018:
1. Mobile on the rise
We’re expecting to see a growing number of bookings made on smartphone apps. Data portal Statista forecasts the number of smartphone users worldwide increasing to 2.53bn in 2018, from an estimated 2.32bn in 2017, so this rise feels inevitable.
Companies across the spectrum have been working to reduce the barriers customers might face when making a booking or purchase on their phone. And it’s working. Customers have grown more comfortable with making purchases and important transactions on their phones. Bizav actors should take note of this new truth: mobile converts.
Nonetheless, we’re not predicting the sudden death of ‘traditional’ booking methods such as email. In this increasingly personalized world of travel, many customers still greatly value communicating directly with a knowledgeable broker or operator to find exactly the right aircraft (or catering or FBO) for their trip.
2. Meeting communication preferences
The digital natives of ‘Generation Y’ and ‘Generation Z’ will prove to be increasingly powerful, affluent and regular clients in business aviation this year. Operators and brokers will need to step up to meet this group with the kind of fast, intuitive technology they expect. If successful, bizav actors will be building lucrative long-term relationships with people whose buying power could grow and grow.
A watchword for this generation is “access.” They want to be able to view their options, compare, and purchase services seamlessly — and certainly without a phone call. This means business aviation needs to look around to the standards being set online and do what they can to emulate them.
If you find buying products and services on leading websites such as Amazon easier than booking flights through your company, we’d recommend closing that gap in 2018.
3. Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Like any other breakthrough technology, AI is expensive. In the past years, large companies such as Amazon and Netflix have been directing significant dollars towards techniques such as “machine learning,” a form of AI that can be applied to make predictions what a customer may like based on their past activities.
This predictive AI is becoming increasingly popular with airlines, hotel operators and travel companies such as Expedia. Providing highly personalized flight or accommodation options at lightning speed is a powerful conversion technique. Why make people search for what they want when you can put forward the perfect solution at once?
Machine learning offers huge potential to improve the process of choosing a business aircraft. It may take a while before this technology becomes accessible to companies with more modest IT budgets, but that day will come. Given we’re in an industry that is highly motivated to provide excellent, personalized customer service, this is certainly a trend to watch closely.
4. Importance of data exchange
While AI may be just beginning, we can confidently say that this is year of data integration.
We expect to see developments on all fronts concerning automatic information sharing, both within companies and across the industry. The entire business aviation world wins when the many different companies involved in putting together a great flight – from brokers, operators, caterers and FBOs to our team at Avinode – “talk” to each electronically. In concrete terms, this means the end of double data entry. And so, so much more of course.
The technology behind this trend, and an acronym we predict you’ll be hearing again and again this year, is APIs. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable software products and multiple stand-alone systems to share data. With the help of APIs, bizav companies can provide more advanced services while continuing to focus on what they do best.
5. Acceptance of cryptocurrencies
Following BitCoin’s spectacular ascent in 2017, cryptocurrencies are front and center in the public imagination. They’re also becoming more accessible, as new platforms make it easier for all kinds of people to purchase cryptocurrencies.
Business aviation companies — keen to provide their customers with ever-more seamless service — are taking note. Surf Air and others now accept Bitcoin and Ethereum as forms of payment, and we’re expecting that other operators and brokers will be taking virtual currencies seriously this year too.
The doubts about digital currencies are understandable, and they should certainly be treated with caution. But while digital currencies may be trending, they are far from a passing fad.
We expect to see business aviation investing wisely in IT this year, with a focus on technologies that can “talk” to each other, as well as speak the language of new generation of digitally savvy customers.
For us at Avinode, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the way of technology. We’re pushing forward on an exciting slate of projects concerning everything from APIs to payment methods to mobile optimization. To stay in the loop on these developments, keep a watch on The Node!
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