大数据在航空业中的应用

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旅客搭乘美国联合航空公司(United Airlines,简称“美联航”)的班机时,通常还会涉及一连串潜在的附加服务,比如升舱、是否有权进入贵宾室等等。

美联航电子商务与经营副总裁斯科特•威尔森介绍说,按照公司过去采用的“收集与分析”数据法,美联航会把旅客选择这些服务的信息汇总到一起,来看“什么才是最成功的产品,然后据此进行营销。”

现在,这种方法已经发生了变化。自从2014年年初起,美联航已经把“收集、探测、行动”定为新的数据收集三步曲,同时还在革新服务旅客的方式。

威尔森介绍说:“现在我们会研究旅客是谁,以及他是否有购买我们某种产品的倾向。”现在美联航为了实时评估一名旅客的可能动向,会加入150多个影响旅客消费的变量,以及旅客之前的旅行目的地进行计算,而不再只是把大量旅客数据汇总到一起。

计算结果大概在200毫秒后就会得出,可以说它是根据一名旅客的实际情况量身打造并动态生成的服务建议。另外,它的服务条款、页面布局、拷贝和其它因素也会根据旅客的具体信息而有所不同。采用新的收据分析法后,联合航空的副业收入年增率超过了15%。

一、“航空业催化大数据”

欢迎来到航空业的大数据时代。从很多方面来看,航空业都是大数据最早的参与者之一。

R.W. Mann & Co公司的行业分析师鲍伯•曼恩指出:“航空业是一个浸泡在数据中的行业,其中有大量数据是无组织的。直到最近,各大航空公司才能依靠大数据技术来“解决如何识别和提高旅客价值以及如何培养高价值的旅客等问题。”

美联航的威尔森指出:“航空业一直在收集数据上做得很好,但他们在利用数据上却并不是一直都很擅长。”现在尽管各大航空公司收集的数据越来越多,但存储和处理数据的成本却已经显著下降,因此也降低了航空公司运用数据的难度。联合航空公司的系统中无论任何时候都在处理着1兆兆字节左右的数据。威尔森说:“我们不会保存所有数据,我们必须有选择性地攫取有用的数据。”对于被选中的数据来说,会有一个实时决策引擎负责相关的处理工作,将它们变成有用的信息。

二、从行李传送带开始

大家可以在处理旅客行李方面清楚地看到大数据技术的效用。达美航空(Delta Air Lines)发言人保罗•斯科贝克说:“我们花费了好几年的努力,在行李跟踪上投入了数百万美元的资金。它是我们为旅客提供的核心幕后服务之一。”

达美航空每年都要处理成百上千万件行李。斯科贝克表示,2014年,达美航空预计总共将处理1.3亿件行李,而且,“每名旅客都有托运完行李上了飞机之后,担心行李是否会丢失的经历。”

斯科贝克表示,通过在值机时使用手持式行李扫描仪,“我们可以获取所有的追踪数据。但是两年前我们意识到一个问题,那就是旅客也可以通过这些信息获得好处。”

因此,达美航空率先推出了一款移动应用,让旅客可以在自己的移动设备上追踪自己的行李。这款应用在iOS、安卓、黑莓、WP平台上均可下载,目前总下载量已经超过1100万次。

三、寻找新的收入流

美国西南航空公司(Southwest Airlines)也在利用大数据技术来决定应该部署哪些新的旅客服务。

西南航空发言人丹•兰德森说:“西南航空利用汇总的匿名用户数据,通过多个渠道、多个设备以及包括公司官网Southwest.com在内的多个网站,向顾客推广产品、服务以及各种个性化服务。通过观察和研究旅客在互联网上的行为和活动,我们能更好地向旅客提供最优惠的机票和最好的旅行体验。同时我们也利用这些数据来进一步改善我们与旅客的关系。”

比如兰德森说:“通过研究旅客在网上搜索的直飞城市,可以帮助我们决定在某一特定航线上应该推出哪种服务。”

这样做的成效如何呢?兰德森称:“我们的旅客人数和忠诚度都在逐年增加。我们认为,这种智能化的、基于数据的定位方法对公司的增长起了很大的促进作用。”

四、“每周100万美元”

以数据为中心的经营方式听起来似乎很好理解,但执行起来就全然是另一回事了。差旅业大数据营销平台Boxever公司的营销副总裁艾莉森•佩列蒂耶指出,对于大多数航空公司来说,第一个拦路虎就是“如何把各类孤立的乘客信息整合到一起——比如交易系统中的订票信息、网络和移动行为(包括搜索、访问、退订)、电子邮件数据、客服信息等等——以建立一个统一的顾客视角。”

佩列蒂耶说:“有了这些信息和根据这些信息得出的见解,各大航空公司就可以采取相应的行动,帮助他们将更多消费者转化成自己的顾客,获得更多收益,提高一切渠道上的顾客忠诚度。”

佩列蒂耶解释道,以挪威的威德罗航空公司(Wideroe)为例,一个统一的顾客视角“可以让呼叫中心的销售代表了解顾客的全部活动记录,而不仅仅是客户服务历史。也就是说,销售代表还能了解顾客最近是否曾访问过公司官网,或者是否曾经打开过公司的营销邮件。因此,在解决完手头上的客户服务问题后,他们处在一个非常有利的位置来推销最适合该顾客的附加服务,这样一来就可以创造额外收入。或者他也可以根据手头上的信息向旅客提供免费升舱,这样一来也可以提高客户忠诚度。”

佩列蒂耶指出,航空公司通过统一顾客视角获得的见解也可以转化成服务信息,通过各种通讯渠道传递给旅客,而电子邮件正是一个非常热门的出发点。

佩列蒂耶说:“我们在欧洲有一个最大的客户,它利用Boxever平台来了解机票的退订情况,然后向退订者发送电子邮件。据这个客户反映,在发送了这些邮件之后,有很多退订的人随后又重新在他们那里订购了机票,由此每周都为它多创造了100万美元的收入。”

Boxever公司首席执行官戴夫•奥•弗拉纳根还称:“由于了解了顾客是谁,来自哪里,他们是否已经是自己的顾客”,有些航空公司花在付费媒体上的获取顾客成本降低了21%。“通过这种方式,航空公司可以把这些顾客从昂贵的顾客获取渠道转移到成本低得多的电子邮件等顾客保留渠道上。”另外弗拉纳根还表示,各大航空公司通过附带的交叉销售(比如酒店、租车等),这方面的收益还有提高17%的潜力。

五、“只有极少的公司真正利用了大数据”

不过弗拉纳根还指出,虽然大数据的这些好处令人兴奋,但是大数据的更多潜能仍然没有得到挖掘。“令人惊讶的是,目前只有极少的航空公司真正利用了大数据。”

差旅软件公司Eastman集团创始人兼董事长理查德•伊斯曼也认同这个观点。他说:“我还没见过任何一家主流航空公司出台了完整成的‘大数据’业务解决方案,也没有任何一家航空公司有整合这样一个方案的计划。”

不过这还得取决于一家公司怎样定义“大数据”。伊斯曼说:“不少航空公司可能会告诉你,他们‘该有的都有了’,但事实上他们并不了解‘大数据’究竟是什么。各大航空公司的管理层仍然非常重视通过现有的库存管理系统销售机票,因此可能忽视了消费者的需求信息,以及那些能够帮助他们满足消费者与旅客需求的工具,更不用说在决策层面去接近消费者了。”

弗拉纳根表示,营销、航班操作与机组人员操作等领域也蕴含着大数据的大量机会。

他说:“我认为,在营销和旅客体验等领域,仍然有大量的需求没有得到满足。像谷歌(Google)等公司正在通过Google Now等工具,试图成为航空业的终极助手。我认为如果航空公司构建一个有用的差旅助手,通过将数据与移动整合到一起,能够提前知道我的需求的话,这对航空公司来说将是一个巨大的机会。另外,它也能在从出发地到目的地的整段旅程为人们提供帮助。”

“想象一下,如果有这样一款旅行应用,能够知道我在哪,知道我要和家人一起旅游,知道我们要去的海滨城市正好天气很糟糕,而且它可以为我们提供一个替代行程,既适合全家人旅游,又不那么依赖于天气。一家航空公司如果能够有效利用大数据,考虑到我的旅行体验和环境因素,替我把所有的点连在一起,那么它对我来说的确会非常有价值。”

英语原文:

When a customer checks into a flight with United Airlines UAL -0.30% , there is typically an array of potential add-on offers to navigate through: flight upgrades, access to the airline’s United Club, and more.

Under United’s old “collect and analyze” approach to data, the airline would use information about customers’ choices about those items, in aggregated fashion to “see what the most successful products were, and market with those [insights] in mind,” said Scott Wilson, the company’s vice president of e-commerce and merchandising.

That approach has changed. As of the beginning of this year, “collect, detect, act” is United’s new data-focused mantra, and it’s changing the way the airline serves its customers.

“Now we look at who the customer is and his or her propensity to buy certain products,” Wilson explained. More than 150 variables about that customer—prior purchases and previous destinations among them—are now assessed in real time to determine an individual’s likely actions, rather than an aggregated group of customers.

The result, delivered in about 200 milliseconds later, is a dynamically generated offer tailored to the individual. Its terms, on-screen layout, copy, and other elements will vary based on an individual’s collected data. For United, the refined approach led to an increase in year-over-year ancillary revenue of more than 15 percent, he said.

‘Airlines evolved big data’

Welcome to the big data era in the airline industry, which in many ways was one of its earliest participants.

“Airlines are awash in data, much of it unstructured,” said Bob Mann, an industry analyst with R.W. Mann & Co. But only recently have airlines been able to use big-data techniques “to solve, among other objectives, how to recognize and enhance customer value, and how to cultivate high-value customers,” he said.

“Airlines have always been very good at collecting data, but they haven’t always been good at using it,” United’s Wilson said. Now that the costs of storing and processing data have dropped—even as airlines collect more and more of it—it’s becoming easier for a company to act on it. At United, roughly a terabyte of customer data is floating around at any given time within its systems. “We don’t keep it all,” Wilson said. “We have to be selective about what we grab.” For the data that is selected, a real-time decision engine does the crunching to turn it into something useful.

It starts at the baggage carousel

One area in which the effects of big data technology are visible is in the handling of customers’ luggage. “We have over a number of years invested millions of dollars in baggage tracking,” said Paul Skrbec, a spokesman with Delta Air Lines. “That was one of those core, behind-the-scenes services for our customers.”

Millions of bags are checked each year with Delta DAL -0.33% —a total of 130 million are projected for 2014, Skrbec said—and “every customer has had the experience of boarding a plane after checking their bag and wondering if it was there.”

Through the use of hand-held baggage scanners used at passenger check-in, “we’ve had all this tracking data available,” Skrbec said. But “one of the things we realized about two years ago is that customers would benefit from having that information.”

Which is why Delta was the first major airline to launch an application allowing customers to track their bags from their mobile devices, he said. Spanning the iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone mobile operating systems, the free app has been downloaded more than 11 million times.

In search of new revenue streams

It’s a similar story at Southwest Airlines LUV 1.54% , which is using big data to determine which new customer services to implement.

“Southwest uses aggregated, anonymous customer data to promote products, services, and featured offers to customers on multiple channels, devices, and websites including Southwest.com,” said Dan Landson, a company spokesman. “By observing and looking into customer behaviors and actions online, we are better suited to offer our travelers the best rates and experiences possible. We also use this data to support the evolving relationships with our customers.”

For example, “we look at the city pairs that are being searched to help us determine what type of service we should have on a specific route,” Landson said.

The payoff? “Our customer and loyalty segments grow year-over-year,” Landson said. “We believe that intelligent, data-based targeting has a lot to do with that growth.”

‘$1 million per week’

The benefits of a data-focused approach may be easy to understand, but execution is another matter entirely. For most airlines, the first problem lies in “bringing together all sorts of disparate silos of passenger information—booking information from transaction systems, web and mobile behavior (including searches, visits, abandoned carts), email data, customer service info, etc.—to create a single, consolidated view of the customer,” said Allyson Pelletier, vice president of marketing with Boxever, which offers a marketing platform focused on putting big data to work for the travel industry.

“Armed with this information, and the resulting insights, they can then take specific action that helps them convert more visitors on-site, secure more revenue, or increase loyalty across any channel,” Pelletier said.

At Norwegian airline Wideroe, for example, a single customer view “enables agents in the call center to understand the full history of the customer—not just the customer service history, but also their recent visits to the website or promotional emails they’ve opened,” she explained. “After they solve the customer service issue at hand, they’re in a powerful position to then recommend the most appropriate ancillary service—driving add-on revenue—or offer a complimentary upgrade, thereby driving loyalty.”

Insights garnered from a single customer view can also drive personalized messaging into various communications channels, and email is a popular starting place, Pelletier noted.

“One of our largest clients in Europe uses Boxever to understand abandoned carts and then trigger personalized emails to the abandoners,” she said. “They reported back subsequent bookings of $1 million per week from these communications.”

Boxever also cites a 21 percent reduction in customer-acquisition costs on paid media “by understanding who the customer was, where they came from and whether or not they were already a customer,” said Dave O’Flanagan, the company’s chief executive. “This way they could start to move those customers away from expensive acquisition channels to retention channels, like email, which is much cheaper.” There is also potential for a 17 percent uplift in conversion on ancillary cross-sells, such as adding hotel or car to a booking, he added.

‘Few companies are really leveraging big data’

Exciting though those benefits may be, there’s an even bigger pool of potential payoffs remaining untouched. “Surprisingly few [airline] companies are really leveraging big data today,” O’Flanagan said.

Indeed, “I’ve not seen a single major airline with an integrated ‘big data’ business solution, nor an airline with a plan to integrate such a program,” said Richard Eastman, founder and president of The Eastman Group, which builds travel software.

That depends on how one defines big data, however. “The airlines will tell you they ‘have it all’ without really knowing or understanding what ‘big data’ really is,” Eastman said. “Airline managements remain so focused on selling seats with their existing inventory systems that they have ignored buyer information needs as well as the tools that would enable them to reach out to buyers and travelers to serve those needs—let alone, reach buyers at decision-making moments.”

Marketing, flight operations and crew operations are all areas of rich opportunity, O’Flanagan said.

“I think there’s still a huge unmet need in the marketing and customer experience area,” he said. “Companies like Google are trying to be the ultimate assistant with technologies like Google Now. I think there’s a huge opportunity for airlines to create a helpful travel assistant that knows what I need before I do by combining data with mobile—helping people through airports, in-destination, right throughout the whole travel journey.

“Imagine a travel application that knows where I am, that I’m traveling with my family and that the weather is bad on our beach holiday. It could start to offer alternative itineraries close by that are family-friendly and not weather-dependent. These are truly valuable things an airline could do for me if they could use big data effectively and join the dots between me, my travel experience and environmental factors affecting that.”

via:fortunechina 译者:朴成奎