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Airfare data and your airport – a Q&A with Infare’s Harald Eisenaecher

Ahead of its webinar on the value of airfare big data to airports on Wednesday March 14, we caught up with Infare’s new Chief Commercial Officer Harald Eisenaecher to hear his thoughts about the dynamic role big data plays in the aviation sector and what potential it holds.

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EXPERIENCED HANDS: Mr Eisenaecher has 20 years' experience in travel and data

With 20 years’ experience in travel and data businesses, you’ve professionally experienced the full run of the digital age. Out of the key characteristics of big data (volume, velocity and variety), what would you say has been the hardest for the aviation industry to keep pace with?

I do not know any industry which is so data rich as the travel industry. People are moving from A to B and they have a myriad of offers available, especially on the airfare side. Still processing this huge amounts of data is a challenge for many as much as is the velocity and the variety of the data.

However, in my opinion, the real struggle is represented by making use of the data so that it improves the bottom line of e.g. the airlines or the airports. The traditional spreadsheets we are used to will not work when dealing with billions of data – an intelligent visualisation and automation is needed. Data must be easy to read, the learning should be as immediate as possible to make sure people can take data-driven actions, and not get stuck trying to make sense of the information itself. That’s actually one of the reasons I have been so interested in the work done by Infare in the latest years. Big data visualisation is at the core of a lot of Infare’s solutions. The complexity of the billions of airfares collected daily from a thousand of sources is handled behind the scenes. We manage a database of over one trillion airfares and with our intelligent BI you have all the relevant information at your fingertips ready to improve your bottom-line!

In your new role at Infare, you will be tasked with ensuring the company keeps pace with the evolving needs of its worldwide customers. How do you reckon customers’ expectations and needs are changing?

Infare’s success to date has depended on staying close to its customers. At present we support thousands of experts, decision-makers and senior management in airlines and airports worldwide and our customer base keeps growing every month. Our solutions are actively used by airports of all sizes all over the world such as Gatwick, Heathrow, Hamburg, Avinor, Montpellier, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Brisbane, just to mention a few. Thanks to our solutions they get additional insight on their airline customers and make intelligent decisions about network performance, profitability analysis and route development.

The airline industry is more dynamic and competitive than ever, an example being the new trend of low cost long-haul operations and the push of the airlines for NDC and Dynamic Pricing. This will increase the competition in the industry which in turn requires every customer to be even more on its toes. Consequently, airports need increasingly up-to-date competitive intelligence giving them fuller insight on their network status and untapped revenue opportunities. The more visual, user-friendly and well-managed the big data is, the better the decisions the airports can take. Here is where InFare is driving at with our solutions.

In your up-coming webinar, you will be talking about airports tapping the potential of airfare big data insights. Airlines have been leveraging airfare data insight for years. What potential does it hold for airports?

Big data it is about volume, variety and velocity …. and most importantly about how to deduct decisions from the available data. At Infare we collect two billion of airfares every day, which are added to one trillion of historical airfares stored in our database. This data has been internally collected from 1000 online sources, validated and organised to guarantee the highest level of information richness and usability. We offer our customers really big data with volume, variety and velocity. What’s more, we invested years of research on UX and data visualisation, to make sure our big data is turned into easy-to-read information.

It is not hard to imagine what potential such airfare big data offers to airports. It’s the key information which needs to be at hand to decide about network performance and route development.

This information is used daily by over 240 airlines for daily pricing decisions and from an airport perspective this means accessing information supporting detailed analysis of customers’ and prospects’ performance. At present, our BI tools support analysis on more than 80,000 routes, which correspond to 95% of the global routes with direct competition.

An example of airfare-based competitive intelligence is the analysis we carried out on Norwegian’s operations for the route London Gatwick Airport – John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York). We estimated that Norwegian achieved multimillion-dollar operating earnings for this route in 2016. Up-to-date, relevant and accurate airfare information was at the core of this case study.

What’s more, leveraging our airfare data database, it was easy to identify the impact that the carrier’s operations had on another competing route: London Heathrow – JFK. This was also the starting point of our subsequent investigations and analysis on the performance of the route during 2017, which will be at the heart of the upcoming webinar. Of course, this is but a simple example of the potential that airfare data analysis holds for airports.

Considering Infare’s focus on customer-centricity, the beauty of our solutions lies in the fact that they have been all developed incorporating the feedbacks and inputs we collected from of our customers and early-adopters over the years. And every airport can benefit from this big data management capabilities.

How does Infare anticipate its approach to the analysis of airfares will evolve in the future – especially when looking at the airport market?

How to increase the utilisation of the huge amount of airfare we handle is an ongoing and exciting challenge for us. We have been supporting airlines, airports and travel agents with high-quality airfare data and analysis tools for the past 18 years and our solutions are tailored to satisfy their evolving needs.

After introducing Machine Learning Technologies and enlarging our tech stack, we have been focusing even more on business intelligence (BI) and visualisation. We help our customers turn big data into decisions. We are currently exploring both alerts for our customers and predictions of price movements. Exciting times are ahead. Come join the big data journey of InFare.

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