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Every day, airlines generate an immense amount of commercial sales data. This data is valuable; properly implemented with analytics tools, it can be used to maximize revenue, reduce costs, and stay ahead of the curve in this highly competitive industry. In addition, with a smart strategy, airlines can leverage data in meaningful ways and devise more effective sales campaigns. 

In this article, we will explore the best ways to use your airlines sales data to create commercial insights that enhance agent loyalty, enable better decision making, drive growth and increase profits.

1. Know Your Market Share and Beat the Competition

With the changing dynamics of aviation and the proliferation of business models, our industry is more competitive than ever. Every airline needs to understand their market position in the industry to be successful. This enables two essential things:

  •    The rebuilding of sales strategies around information for key routes, agents, origin, and destination
  •    The identification of the markets driving your sales and those that are struggling

Apart from their position in the market, airline sales managers also need to be aware of their current and past sales performance to properly benchmark performance. Unfortunately, most airlines don’t have tools in place that can provide sales managers with this information, leaving it up to managers to make “best guesses” (which is far from ideal).

Of course, just knowing the present sales performance is never enough. Airlines need to have a robust strategy in place to fill seats on their future flights. Sales managers should have access to their future flight’s sales statistics to launch a marketing or promotional campaign, plan agent incentive offers, and focus on agents that can drive more sales.

2. Analyze Your Agent Incentive Programs

While every airline has its own promotions and strategies to incentivize agents to sell more of their tickets, they come at a cost. Therefore, optimizing incentives means offering the right incentive to the right agent at the right time. If you want to be that precise, commercial insights are the answer.

By leveraging commercial data to create insights, airlines can identify which agents are delivering at high levels. They can also map agents based on their potential to sell or on their past performance. This helps paint a clear picture of which agents to create incentive programs for.

Commercial data is especially important when you consider how often airlines and agents fail to settle terms for sales performance and incentive payouts. Access to accurate and reliable sales data could change that. This would give airlines the ability to come to the table equipped with game-changing information which improves negotiations and fosters win-win relationships with their partners.

Be it periodic, upfront, or on the spot incentives, airlines should regularly monitor the performance of their agents and determine if they're meeting airline sales objectives.

3. Automate Your Internal Processes

Every airline attempts to achieve two broad objectives: cost reduction and revenue maximization. Yet, airlines can lose significant amounts of revenue due to errors in incentive calculations, inability to track sales data, over-payment to agents, and processing refunds and cancellations.

To stop these revenue leakages, airline sales managers need easy access to data that can give meaningful insights. Process automation tools can provide airlines better insights on crucial data and save time, while obtaining accurate and timely results. Simply put, there’s no reason why airlines shouldn’t have a system-wide digitization strategy to simplify internal processes.

4. Monitor the Impact of Marketing and Incentive Campaigns

Airlines utilize a variety of direct and indirect distribution channels for marketing efforts, all of which are crucial in facilitating sales decisions. In fact, indirect sales channels still play a significant role in airline sales, contributing to around 60% of overall sales.

Of course, airlines always need a pulse on changing consumer behavior. Trends shaping the airline-consumer relationship include:

  • An increasing use of online channels for search and booking
  • The use of multiple devices during the research and booking process (e.g. searching on their phone before purchasing on their laptop)
  • The growing popularity of social media to share first-hand experiences — and the use of these as objective input in the travel decision-making process
  • The increasing relevance of loyalty programs

To generate sales and attract more customers, airline sales managers need to plan marketing campaigns around consumer behavior and market demand. They need to know their top performing routes, agents, and campaigns. Again, commercial sales data provides these vital insights.

5. Choose the Right Solutions

Airlines generate immense GB’s of sales data each day. To make use of this data, airlines need smart tools that can provide meaningful insights with just a few clicks. In other words, airlines need to have access to IT solutions that can provide accurate and timely data analytics for decision-making.

Yet, one of the biggest difficulties airlines are facing today isn’t just getting the right information at the right time, it’s also acting on it. Traveler expectations are changing rapidly, driven by a technological evolution. With changing market demands and tough competition, every airline must digitally transform to ensure their survival.

In order to thrive, airlines must have the ability to transform data into actionable insights. That way, they can craft market-relevant strategies in response to trends and pursue new business opportunities. With a constantly changing technology landscape, it has become difficult for airlines to choose the best fit technology for their growth. Airlines need to choose tools wisely if they want the best ROI.

Are You Leveraging the Full Potential of Commercial Insights?

In 2016, global air traffic passenger demand increased by almost six percent over the year before. By 2017, traffic is estimated to grow by another 7.4 percent. To keep up with this pace of growth, airlines need clarity on how their performance can be continually improved.

By now, it should be clear how commercial insights can help foster this growth. Now, the question becomes: are you reaching the full potential of your commercial insights? You and your team should ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Where am I losing revenues and market share, and what/who are the key contributors?
  • What is the sales and growth potential in the markets I plan to enter?
  • What are the opportunities for increasing sales revenues?
  • How do I segment agents for increasing market share?
  • Do I have a solid working relationship with my agents?
  • Do I have an optimized incentives program?
  • Do I have access to the right commercial data at the right time and in the right way that allows me to make informed decisions?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you have not harnessed the full potential of the commercial data available to you.

Nevertheless, there’s no better time to start than right now. Data has become the driver for all industries. Airlines are no different. 

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