More choice, brought by better technology
Pictured above: Virgilio Russi, Senior Director Sales, Canada
More airlines, hotels, cruise companies and a myriad of other travel suppliers will be offering ever more destinations, products, fare bundles and ancillaries, with the intent to meet the customers’ very diverse expectations.
Air Canada expanded its branded fares offer in 2018 with the introduction of Basic and Comfort, and these have since been extended to many more routes. We will continue to expand and fine-tune our offer range in 2019 to suit customer demand.
Suppliers will continue to look for the best technologies and shelf-space to communicate their USPs and get noticed in an already very crowded space. No different from other airlines, we are excited with the possibilities of NDC – you should be, too. The New Distribution Capabilities will allow us to display our product and communicate our value proposition like never before. And that will help you improve sales.
Focus on segments
Travellers and travel buyers will need to keep up to date with so much information and so many options to make the right choices. They will be aided by online resources and, of course, human travel counsellors. OTAs and other large digital players in search, referral and social media will employ more Artificial Intelligence to anticipate customers’ wishes, narrow down the options on display, and to facilitate the decision process.
Travel agencies and their counsellors will have to focus even more on their customer segments and become experts in certain products and suppliers. We believe that continued training is key: 85% of counsellors who completed the AC GSU (Global Sales University) found it “very helpful” to articulate Air Canada’s value proposition, help customers navigate through all our product choices, and ultimately sell more to happier and more loyal customers. Traditional agencies will also have to continue to invest in technology to remain available 24/7 either in person or through self-service tools.
This is an area where we could all cooperate a lot more for the good of our common customers.
A simple first step is to always add the traveller’s contact information to the PNR, so that the airline can advise both the traveller and the agency of a flight delay or cancellation and protection alternatives.
For Air Canada, 2019 will be a transformative year in terms of technology, as we implement our new Passenger Service System, or PSS. This is the airline’s core system, which helps us handle each traveller from the moment of booking throughout their entire journey and beyond.
We are migrating to the Altea platform from Amadeus, which will give us much more freedom to create new products and new and better ways to serve our customers, not to mention seamless interline capability with other Star Alliance airlines also hosted on the same platform.
Altea will also bring better information exchange with the GDSs and a single, shared PNR between Amadeus GDS agencies and Air Canada.