Re-Imagining The Guest


As its guests turn to new channels to connect with it, Etihad Airways is taking steps to transform its digital strategy. The first of these steps for the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is a three-year, multi-million dollar agreement with Cognizant that’s directed at defining Etihad’s digital strategy and re-imagining the guest experience.

By bringing together its digital strategy, technology, industry and experiential design expertise, Cognizant will conduct a comprehensive study of Etihad Airways’ current business and technology footprint to outline and operationalize a best-in-class digital ecosystem, enabling multi-channel distribution, customer persona segmentation and personalized marketing techniques.

The plan is that through data and customer insights, Cognizant will help Etihad Airways and its equity partners to better understand the needs of their guests. The research will be combined with best practices, processes and technology allowing the airline to provide passengers with customized offerings, tailored travel solutions and enhanced experiences throughout their journey based on their loyalty status and personal preferences such as product and service features, preferred seating, meal choices, holiday destinations and more.

For Etihad and its partners, this means unlocking new revenue streams, enhancing its brand and building new commercial models.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ chief commercial officer, observed, “Our guests are increasingly turning to digital channels to connect with us, and therefore we recognize the importance of delivering a personalized and seamless guest experience across all touch-points.”

Baumgartner noted that, “Our partnership with Cognizant will help us define a superior digital experience road-map that enhances the customer journey from planning to booking, in the airport and on the plane and improve guest loyalty by attracting and engaging with guests in new and innovative ways. The scope includes digital tools and data insights for our customer-facing staff to further enhance their ability to provide a more customized and personalized service to our guests.”

Etihad’s chief information and technology officer, Robert Webb pointed out that, “This partnership is core to our technology and innovation strategy, which will empower us and our equity partners to redefine an exceptional digital guest experience that matches our remarkable in-flight and on-ground experience. We chose Cognizant because of its leadership in digital transformation programs, deep travel and hospitality industry experience, and long-term partnerships with digital technology leaders.”

Francisco D’Souza, chief executive officer for Cognizant, said that, For Cognizant, “digital” means the ability to connect technology, data science, devices, design, and business strategy to transform processes and experiences. This engagement marks the coming together of two pioneering organizations whose growth strategy is underpinned by digital innovation.”

As part of the engagement, Cognizant will manage Etihad Airways’ existing web applications and portals and integrate them into the new digital platform. A new Digital Centre of Excellence will be established to drive innovation with the airline’s key technology partners.

Pictured, Dr John Burgin (l), head of Cognizant Digital Works, APAC and Middle East, and Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ chief commercial officer, celebrating the signing of the strategic agreement between Etihad Airways and Cognizant.