Woman is shopping online with laptop

Changing passenger purchase behavior with pre-flight duty free sales

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Wand Technology recently made its industry debut at the Future Travel Experience Asia Expo, where the digital start-up alerted airlines and online travel agents (OTAs) that it can offer them a new approach to growing revenues with “no cost, no apps, no e-commerce infrastructure and no management inputs”.

The secret sauce is Wand Technology’s middleware platform, called AirTraffix, which enables duty free sales pre-flight, with the aim of changing passenger purchasing behaviors and enhancing ancillary revenue. Runway Girl Network interviewed Wand Technology chief operations officer Ian Kay to learn more.

RGN: What type of duty free messaging does a passenger receive before they fly, if their airline of choice has adopted AirTraffix? Also, are you focusing on any specific goods, such as ultra-premium items?

Kay: Airlines and OTAs that affiliate with Wand Technology will use the AirTraffix platform to present tailored shopping experiences to passengers on all of their outbound digital communications.

From the initial booking confirmation form, to the online check-in emails, and all the way up to the last-minute reminders a few days before the actual travel day, AirTraffix identifies the itinerary of each passenger and serves unique display banners on the media.

This invites passengers to browse duty free shopping options at the relevant points of their journey and a single click takes them to an online marketplace.

As an example, a person traveling from Israel to Singapore could be offered the option of shopping at James Richardson Duty Free in Tel Aviv or iShop Changi. The ads served through AirTraffix will send passengers through to the online duty free stores at those locations, meaning that the merchants, who pay for the referrals, remain as the marketplace and the affiliates earn revenues from shopping without having to be shopkeepers.

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RGN: Are the duty free goods sent directly to the passenger’s home, or are they presented to the passenger at the airport?

How the duty free goods get to the passenger remains entirely in the control of the merchants, however, since we are striving to achieve global coverage from our merchant network, we do prefer to work with those that provide a comprehensive fulfillment solution and can offer customers both options.

We consider this a win for the passenger – who gets the best user experience based on convenience and choice – and best for the affiliates who will be remembered for offering a simple solution.

RGN: What about inflight opportunities; is AirTraffix looking at how crew might be able to sell duty free on board (without carrying the actual goods on board), and then the items are available to the passenger on landing?

Kay: Given the steady decline in sales in-flight with figures (IATA) suggesting that less than 3 percent of passengers buy anything from the trolleys, inflight duty free sales is not an area of focus for Wand Technology.

We see other data being presented (AOE and others) that suggests that over seven in 10 passengers are making purchasing decisions pre-travel. This suggests that airlines that wait until their customer is sat on the plane to present their offers have already missed the opportunity.

AirTraffix has been built to address exactly these challenges being faced by the industry from the big online players. We hope our platform will help to return the advantage to the airlines and merchants. The unique ability of being the first contact with the passengers at the booking stage is really what sets this apart.

RGN: How long does it take to integrate this dashboard into the booking process?

Kay: The AirTraffix software integration is designed with the softest of touches and takes no more than a few hours to install. We know that anything with a more complex implementation process would be inhibitive. The simplicity and point of difference with the AirTraffix software also lies in the fact that we do not want any or need any customer data.

Regarding airline affiliates, Kay said the firm is poised to shortly make three major announcements. He noted that AirTraffix never shares airlines’ data, “only our revenues”.

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