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That's a wrap

Published on  18 June by Arthur Calderwood , Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales Operations, SITA
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It’s hard to believe, but another Air Transport IT Summit has come and gone. Today, we enjoyed the plenary sessions, hearing from some of the leading innovators in the industry.

Max Kingsley-Jones of Airline Business and Flight Global welcomed the delegates at 08:30. He was followed by SITA CEO Francesco Violante, who kicked off the sessions with a few words about the connected future of the industry. Passenger expectations continue to evolve at faster and faster rates, and the industry must adapt to keep up. Innovation can help us do this on all fronts.

Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future Research, carried the first plenary session, Breakthroughs in air travel – beyond the horizon. Rohit echoed Francesco’s message of change – this time from the technology perspective. Technology is changing faster all the time and the industry needs to anticipate the unexpected, such as flying robots and implanted devices. Are we really ready for this level of connectivity?

Mark Schwab, CEO, Star Alliance, and Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, spoke during the next session, Towards the ‘joined up’ journey. Mark pointed out that the challenges of integration go beyond the airline and airport to include airlines themselves. This new era of connected travelers means that passengers often have greater insight into an airline than even partner airlines may have.

Paul stressed the need to anticipate the passenger experience during the design stage of the airport.

After a well-deserved coffee break, we picked back up with Taking the end-to-end view: airports.

Dr. Michael Kerkloh, President and CEO, Munich Airport, said that aviation and banking are the most advanced industries in digital transformation. He also cautioned that diverse customers come from diverse digital worlds, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.

James Cherry, President and CEO, Aeroports de Montreal, explained that technology can reduce processing times and give passengers more dwell time, which require new business models and IT strategies.

Thomas Windmuller, Sr. Vice President, IATA, said the most important data for passengers is operational data, and it shouldn’t be owned solely by any one stakeholder. The passenger owns the passenger, not the airport or the airline, and passengers can decide for themselves what information they want.

Following lunch, we revisited the end-to-end theme, this time from the airline perspective. Taking the end-to-end view: airlines included presentations by Peter Hammer of United Airlines and Simon Lamkin of easyJet.

Peter redefined the passenger journey as pre-travel, day of travel, and post-travel. He said technology can help cater to the passenger at each of these stages and that the customer journey has evolved from merely functional to end-to-end convenience.

Simon talked about easyJet’s ‘connected program’ that includes BYOD for employees with a specific app store that provides manuals, etc.

The last session, Delivering the ‘always-on’ travel experience, included presentations by Dmitry Chuyko of S7 Travel Retail, John Hurley of Ryanair, and SITA CTO Jim Peters.

Dmitry defined the travel lifecycle as dreaming, planning, shopping and experiencing. He said that the passenger must experience happiness at each of these steps.

John stressed the importance of the customer being at the center of everything the airline does. It’s much more important to provide passengers with the simple message at the right time than to overload them with too much information.

Jim asked the question of the day: what about downloading experiences instead of apps?

Overall, we heard from 12 speakers today, each bringing a unique message and perspective. But the common theme expressed by all of them was the need to work together – airlines, airports, industry associations, retailers, etc. – to share the data that can enhance the customer experience.

The 16th Air Transport IT Summit is now closed. It included a record-number 350 delegates from 75 countries – a truly global audience. For those in attendance, I hope you enjoyed the event as much as I did. I hope to see you again next year. For those who couldn’t join us, I hope we can welcome you to the 17th Air Transport IT Summit next year in Brussels.

In the meantime, please visit the Download Center of the event microsite for speaker presentations, videos, images, thoughtware, and sponsor downloads.

I'll leave you with a taste of what we experienced this year:

2015 Air Transport IT Summmit

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