Lufthansa has been developing a number of prototypes aimed at improving the customer experience at the booking stage, as well as the airport.
The developments are part of the carrier's SMILE program, unveiled two years ago to help Lufthansa focus on personalising the passenger experience.
One prototype is being carried out at Munich airport and uses beacons to ascertain how much time passengers have before boarding and what specific products and services, such as lounge passes, the airline could offer them.
About 200 beacons have been placed around the airport which communicate with the Lufthansa mobile application to get flight details, customer systems to see whether the passenger is already in a frequent flier program and its lounges to gauge how busy they are before potentially offering a pass to customers.
David Doyle, director of the SMILE program, claims they're not about testing whether elements such as lounge passes are attractive but to understand the context of the passenger and their behaviour.
He adds that the take-up at Munich has been "very strong" and says:
"It's about can we do context-based messaging at the airport because there's a lot of problems we want to solve with that and address the need for personalisation and for real-time information."
Explaining the development during Lufthansa's Digital Aviation Forum in Frankfurt this week, Doyle says the initiatives are about providing passengers with the digital experience they have in the rest of their lives.
"The customer wants more real-time information. They want to be able to solve more problems themselves via their devices and they want to check-in and check-out very quickly. We're putting in place the infrastructure and customer understanding that goes with that.
He adds that while the airline's customers have always left a lot of data around them, the industry has not taken advantage of it.
Lufthansa is now using information from multiple data points and market research to inform how it shapes its ecommerce platform and have a better view on what passengers are doing, when and how.
A second use-case being trialled by the airline is around personalising its website pages for different passengers.
Doyle highlights two different passenger profiles to demonstrate what content might be personalised for them.
- Leisure traveller Klaus Hartmann flies on Lufthansa for his annual holiday and uses the website for destination inspiration - his personalised page acts as a travel brochure showcasing what the airline can offer
- Beijing-based Wang Kiyan is a high-value frequent traveller on the airline and is flying to Lagos. The homepage is more about making sure the passenger has everything he/she needs and making recommendations for hotels and other services.
The airline is also looking at the potential for created a 'ID' for leisure passengers to provide them with a more consistent experience across its digital channels as well as build up a profile on them.
Further initiatives being worked on include using Bluetooth or Biometrics to speed passengers through to the lounge without having to show a boarding pass at various touchpoints. Lufthansa hasn't yet decided which technology it will pursue.
What's interesting about much of the development is how data-centric it is. The airline seems to have figured out that there's a potential goldmine to tap into but how it approaches it is crucial.
In essence, as Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr explains, the trust it has to fly passengers safely from A to B needs to be extended to the digital world and how the airline can and will use passenger data.
Developments around virtual and augmented reality were also unveiled as part of the airline's Flying Lab, giving passengers the opportunity to trial new concepts via VR headsets, tablets and smartphones whilst in the air.
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NB: Reporter's flight to attend the Digital Aviation Forum was supported by Lufthansa.