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Disruptive innovation in aviation

Jun 06 2017 19:35
Carin Smith

Cancun – Innovation in aviation can be created with a specific intention and comes from looking at what customers value, where there is a need in the market place and how, through design, one can offer what a customer wants.

And there is still a lot more that can be done in this regard in the aviation industry, delegates heard during a panel discussion at the 73rd annual AGM of the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Tripadvisor, for instance, started with an idea conceived in a little room above a pizza shop and involved how to connect consumers directly to the travel process. It now has about 400 million people visit the site per month.

Innovation needs open mindedness, creativity and flexibility, the panel members agreed.

According to Christoph Mueller, chief digital and innovation officer at Emirates, disruption in the airline industry is not necessarily coming from other airlines, but rather from other industries.

In his view, the airline industry is about to have to compete with companies like Apple and Spotify.

“The real user experience consumers want is the wake-up call the airline industry is facing,” explained Mueller.

In his view, the airlines that will survive will be the ones making their business model more customer based in the way of adding to the value chain. Yet, one of the challenges for airlines when it comes to innovation is its lack of agility in this regard.

Another member of the panel was Jeremy Wertheimer, founder of ITA Software, which is now a travel industry software division of Google.

“When the stakes are raised and it should be as easy as buying something with your thumb print, the airline industry is often limited by the intermediary system that has been its way of doing things for a long time,” said Wertheimer.

“Now, as new entrants and new industries are entering the travel space, consumers increasingly want an airline to be a partner in their trip, communicating with them all along the trip. There lies tremendous opportunity in this area.”

Entrepreneur Gillian Morris, founder of travel app Hitlist, foresees that the introduction of driverless cars would make consumers even favour such a mode of transport – like a driverless Uber taxi instead of flight journeys of under 5 hours and thus avoiding airport security, not being able to take a laptop and other perceived inconveniences they associate with taking a flight.

According to Wertheimer, airlines have to look at their customers more closely and integrate information more tightly. Yet, there seems to be a kind of disconnect from consumers and changes happening in the industry. The consumer must actually want what you are trying to give them.

*Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM

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iata  |  iata agm  |  cancun  |  aviation industry
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