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by Alexander v. Bernstorff

Our industry is complex.

Operating a fleet of aircraft safely and timely across a global network of routes is a challenge in its own. Getting over a myriad of hurdles like regulation, volatility everywhere, a rising number of airline business models, the risk of fixed assets and a monopolistic corporate environment, is a mess. And the list goes on.
Fortunately, at least our selling process is standardised.

But does this enable a great shopping experience? Or is it that also this element of our business has become ludicrously complex over the last decade or so? Reading the latest research about airline distribution I can sense that airlines are not doing a great job when it comes to enabling an inspiring and frugal shopping experience. To a consumer, in the current process it must simply be unclear when the airline wants to offer what and why. Rather than a smooth and standardised process, consumers are facing a highly complex and technologically fragmented one.

So, what’s badly needed is SMPLFCTN.

Ken Segall, Steve Job’s creative advertising director for about twelve years, says that simplicity is what made Apple so successful, because “Complexity is what frustrates employees and confuses customers”. Anecdotally, airlines – at least some of them – believe that mastering an ever-increasing complexity is what makes them successful. “Too many people are brought into the process, more levels of approval are created, more research is demanded and, as a result, it becomes more difficult for common sense to prevail.”, says Segall. But it should be the other way around, and Steve Jobs knew that: “Simplicity was the lens through which Steve Jobs observed everything. In the pursuit of simplicity, compromise was never tolerated.”

If airlines will not offer ease-of-use to consumers, others will do on behalf of them.

I have been dealing with most aspects of airline distribution for over two decades. What I’ve been missing is simplification. If there’s one suggestion I may make to airlines, it’s this: If you want to make life easier for all types of consumers, and if you want to escape the dead-end row that our current distribution environment is, then you must dramatically reduce your reliance on legacy products and procedures. Remember baby steps. If an airline wants to explore retailing, it has to be willing to shave complexity away – at least for a trial.

InteRES is not only offering a NDC Offer- & Order-Management engine that supports simplified procedures within an airline by design. We are also committed to helping our airline customers with their commercial implementation, making available our fundamental distribution know-how.


The article quoted, written by Ken Segall, was published in British Airways’ “Business Life” magazine earlier in the year 2016.

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