Amadeus slotted a key element of its merchandising jigsaw into place last week with the launch of a Customer Experience Management system.
The technology is central to the distribution giant's vision of the global merchandising system announced last October, which will eventually bring in retailing, merchandising and personalisation into a single, modular platform.
Describing the system at the time, Amadeus vice president of distribution marketing Decius Valmorbida said:
"It will enable airlines to realise their retailing and merchandising vision by giving them the ability to control the price, placement and promotion of ancillary content across all channels."
Amadeus head of merchandising and sales, airline IT, Meg O'Keefe says the launch of the CEM system is about moving the industry towards a "full end-to-end travel experience".
She was speaking to Tnooz at last week's Amadeus Airline Digital Merchandising conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
O'Keefe says that only about 5% of airlines believe they have the necessary information available to them from a data and systems point of view in order to start applying merchandising and personalisation.
Of carriers that are employing some customer experience techniques, it tends to be in a single channel.
"You need to be present on all the touch points, direct and indirect.
Airlines, if they do personalisation, they do it on digital. And, if they do it they are at the beginning of the travel lifecycle(inspiration and booking) but if they want to deliver a coherent experience they can't.
"There's the whole journey from a systems point of view and also from a business point of view."
She says the CEM system provides that "whole journey" management from knowing who and where the customer is, building up a profile for them using historical and behavioural data and being able to offer timely and relevant services.
Whilst airlines are struggling with the next steps, it is the "biggest revenue opportunity" for them, O'Keefe adds.
When Amadeus launched its vision for merchandising last year, it estimated $130 billion in potential revenue for carriers in the next five years.
Amadeus says it has a launch customer for CEM and hopes the system will go live this year. Some airlines are already using elements of the CEM system.
For example, TAM Airlines, the launch partner for Amadeus Personal Disruption Companion app, is using it to put together bundled options and offers for travellers in the event of disruption.
O'Keefe says the system is a key investment area for the company and will evolve further.
Launch of the CEM is the realisation of a prototype, demonstrated at a customer event last year, of the sorts of services it will enable airlines to offer.
Further reading: What happens when Andrea and Hans engage with an airline via mobile?
NB: Reporter's travel and accommodation at the Airline Digital Merchandising conference was supported by Amadeus.
NB2:Airline jigsaw image via Shutterstock.