The airline industry is keen to invest in AI in order to evolve better and faster. In fact, AI in the aviation market alone is expected to be valued at $152.4 million in 2018 and to reach $2,222.5 million by 2025.
From AI-themed hackathons with 700+ participants to programs that simplify the check-in process by integrating with Amazon’s Alexa, airlines are officially on the AI bandwagon — and it’s paying off. AI is already making it possible for airlines to reduce instances of overbooking, better assist customers with chatbots, and even make boarding faster and more convenient with kiosks with facial recognition.
Airline marketers are no exception to the AI obsession. They too have started using AI to improve the customer journey, well before the customer ever sets foot in the airport. Their goal? To let customers lead their own unique journey.
What does customer-centric marketing look like when AI gets involved? Let us tell you a quick story.
Your return customer, Hailey, visits your airline’s website to look for a flight. Upon her visit, she is recognized as a Silver Status customer. Unfortunately, she doesn’t convert on her first visit, so she’s automatically entered into a retargeting customer journey for loyalty members.
Then, because AI uses her history to understand her, it predicts that Hailey is most likely to interact with visual content, and based on that prediction it shows Hailey a personalized display banner. When she doesn’t click on the banner but visits a metasearch website to compare flights instead, that data is collected and stored in her profile.
AI then uses that data to retarget Hailey with a dynamic travel video, including personalized pricing and the number of loyalty points she can earn by booking her flight with your airline. When she clicks, she lands on a personalized landing page. When she books her flight there, she’s automatically excluded from receiving irrelevant retargeting offers (bye-bye spam) and retargeted to receive relevant ancillary offers for her upcoming flight.
Hailey’s skeleton journey was created by a marketer, but ultimately the path Hailey took was based on her own choices, with AI mirroring those actions with appropriate responses in real time. In other words, it’s the perfect choose-your-own-adventure experience.
If the example above sounded like a complicated journey, that’s because it was. Customers are complex, and their journeys are rarely linear. So instead of setting up numerous siloed systems to try to target them properly, Intelligent Journey Orchestration allows marketers to set up any number of journey flows and then lets AI make decisions along the way to mirror the customer’s actual choices in real time.
If you’re curious to read more examples of how Intelligent Journey Orchestration can help airlines tackle other challenges, check out any of the links below to read a short eBook that includes an intelligently orchestrated customer journey on that theme:
You can also visit our airline marketing hub, Getting Customers from Point A to Your Airplane, to read more and get the mini eBook overview.
In Hailey’s story above, we explained how AI helped offer her the right content at the right time to help her along her journey. This is a great way to get your feet wet with marketing AI: it’s helpful to marketers, it boosts KPIs and gets results, and most importantly, it improves the customer journey.
But Intelligent Journey Orchestration can do much more than simply improve your CRM distribution. Yes, AI can make decisions about when and where to place content — but it can also determine the perfect messaging.
This is where it gets really interesting, so stay with us.
One of the most exciting AI predictions that are helping airline marketers is destination recommendation. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say Hailey is in the orientation phase of her next trip. She wants to escape the short, cold, dark days of winter and enjoy a few days of sunshine, mild temperatures, and a glass of wine (or two) on a beautiful veranda.
Hailey knows what she wants, but she doesn’t know where she wants to go. There are plenty of places that can offer the experience she’s dreaming of, so she’s doing some research on your airline’s website to figure out the best option for her budget. After a bit of browsing, she’s inspired by what she finds and knows which destinations fit in her budget. But she’s not quite ready to make a decision.
At this point, AI knows Hailey is in the orientation phase thanks to her onsite behavior: repeatedly searching and comparing prices for multiple destinations via the on-site search engine. With that data, it can now help you recommend Hailey’s ultimate destination to enjoy some sunshine and good wine:
Thanks to the power of AI, Hailey is shown inspiring, media-rich content about destinations that will fit her needs, thus feeding her orientation phase with options that are a perfect fit for her travel requirements.
There are a couple of things about this process that should really stand out:
When we think about AI, we tend to jump to the big stuff, like self-driving cars (or planes) and the singularity. But AI is already making a huge difference in small, yet significant ways — like helping marketers get more out of their time and effort, and helping travelers choose the perfect destination.
In addition to the stories above, AI opens up a whole new world where you can benefit from smart, reliably automated actions around important marketing factors like:
Want to learn more about how AI is impacting airline marketing and how you can benefit? Be sure to check out our Airline Marketing Portal.