Data Point Of View

Thanks to new tools and capabilities, multiple segments of powerful market data are becoming more available and easier to use. The new tools revolutionize aviation business intelligence and provide analysts access to indispensable information critical to their business.

The rapidly evolving marketplace of the 21st century has spawned unprecedented requirements to analyze data, make sound decisions and quickly take action.

And in no economic environment are these needs felt more acutely than in airline transportation and greater commercial aviation.

As recently as a decade ago, airlines and airports that wanted to access valuable market information were faced with a task that was, at best, difficult — in some ways even daunting.

Data analysis could be achieved only through a piecemeal approach, necessitating the extraction of data from multiple disparate sources. And while airlines at least had access to Market Intelligence Data Tape (MIDT) data, most airports did not.

The data available to airports ranged from U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) data — which could be up to six months out of date – to schedule data from various vendors.

Additional aggregations of data were available from other government sources, but they were either extremely difficult to obtain or only included data for air travel within a particular country’s borders. This approach was not only slow and cumbersome, but the data gathered would not necessarily provide a complete picture of the market.

Many different data sources were available; however, they were hard to accumulate or lacked necessary information. Additionally, acquiring all relevant data was cost prohibitive.

This glaring unavailability of a consolidated source of worldwide market data actually, in effect, created an opportunity. To help in conducting analysis — and provide direction for their key strategic decisions — airlines and airports alike needed a single place where they could access disparate sources of data.

As a result, solutions such as Sabre® AirVision™ Market Intelligence (for airports and airlines) are changing the way airlines and airports access and analyze data.

Using Market Intelligence to support strategic actions in a number of new ways — choosing just about any strategic direction — airlines and airports as well as other related businesses now have the capability to access data from anywhere in the world at any time.

Examples of such strategic actions abound; some of which include:

  • Evaluation of potential new markets to determine which of those markets would likely drive the most additional revenue,
  • Internal analysis to ensure that a fair share of the market is being captured,
  • Identification of key competitors and any number of proactive ways to shift or regain market share,
  • Improved measurement of progress toward strategic financial and operational targets.

Market Intelligence, powered by Global Demand Data (GDD), is designed and intended to provide data in a timely manner. It is affordable, comprehensive and easy-to-use. It consolidates information from different data sources from around the world into one dataset, thereby providing users the ability to extract relevant market data for analysis.

Not only do the GDD data points provide a complete picture of the market, they create a level playing field, giving all users the capabilities and opportunity to view the same data. These data fields are available to users within one month of when the activity occurs, ensuring that the users are provided the most current information.

Making use of the three largest GDS providers (Sabre Travel Network®, Amadeus and Travelport) as a launching point, GDD data incorporates worldwide government statistics, industry sources and Web-scraping combined with proprietary algorithms that give a thorough view of the market.

There are more than 40 unique data sources, including:

  • Sabre® Transaction Control Number,
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (T100, DB1B, Form 41),
  • Eurostat (the European Union-member countries),
  • Airport Council International (ACI).

GDD provides traffic and fare information for more than half a million true origination-and-destination (O&D) markets and dates back to 2001.

Market information provided by GDD is one piece of the data provided. Other pieces of information that are critical to aviation-industry professionals can be found in schedule data. Detailed historical- and future-schedule data as well as capacity information for the world’s air carriers is also included.

With information available in a range from January 2000 to 13 months into the future, providing access enables users to anticipate changes that will directly affect their business. In turn, the users can proactively take the steps necessary to determine the financial implications of the change or, more positively, to alter the changes through direct communication with airlines.

Industry Best Practices

The creation of the GDD dataset has offered airlines and related companies capabilities to solve difficult business puzzles and make good business decisions. More importantly, it now enables the capability to analyze data in new ways.

With more-robust data, new markets can be analyzed and ranked by priority of impact. Analysts can compile business cases showing demand growth, revenue and fare impact. They can then share this information with key decision makers.

Findings have led to the implementation of new service offerings and economic development for numerous airlines and airports across the globe.

These new service offerings have contributed substantially to the continued success in the Market Intelligence community. Those contributions have been further confirmed through the prestigious industry awards won by Market Intelligence for growth, innovation and marketing.

The accumulation of data also supports the capability to investigate fare and revenue information to a more granular extent. This includes viewing data at cabin-class level, which provides an indication of the amount of premium traffic in a market and affording valuable insight into the revenue potential available to airlines and airports.

Considering revenue potential, the GDD allows analysts to split the data by point of origin. This essential functionality segments traffic by “originating” passengers, “destination” passengers and “connecting” passengers. Each segment has revenue implications because changes in the share of each could have a significant impact on budgetary and staffing requirements.

Point-of-origin information can provide critical insight for airports and airlines as they explore alternative streams of revenue. For example, airport operators and airlines can work together to co-locate flights with targeted concessions to maximize revenue and profitability for both.

Other key differentiators with GDD includes point-of-sale and advanced-booking data. Point-of-sale data helps determine where demand for specified markets is located. More importantly, these data points show precisely where traffic is being lost to competitors.

A catchment-area analysis from point-of-sale data can illustrate how much — and where — traffic is “leaking.”

As the name implies, advanced booking data identifies what has been booked for future travel. Analysts no longer have to rely on historical data alone for their analysis. These industry leading data points not only provide insight into changes in booking curves, but offer the ability to proactively impact performance by shifting market share to increase revenue.

Whether information is extracted directly from Market Intelligence, or a consultant from Sabre Airline Solutions accesses information on behalf of an airline or airport, the GDD data available today provides the flexibility to be able to understand the market, increase revenue and profitability, and drive value.

Increasing Capability

At a time during which technological innovation is abundant, the Market Intelligence team was given the task of improving and enhancing the design and function of the current application, without taking away from the initial goals outlined during the development of the solution.

Sabre Airline Solutions offers two different aviation business-intelligence solutions within its marketing and planning suite of solutions. One is for airlines while the other is for airports. Any improvements would need to be applied to each solution and would require significant effort to develop.

Prior to beginning the development work, a thorough analysis showed there was 65 percent common functionality that spanned both of the solutions, which, coincidentally, meant there was 35 percent of functionality that was unique to each of the solutions.

Immediately, the opportunity was recognized to be able to leverage the benefits of each solution and offer them to the other community.

The conclusion of the analysis showed that cross functionality and an integrated solution would benefit both the airport and airline communities. And the initiative would not be a simple merger of the features or a simple change in the interface. The redevelopment of the Market Intelligence suite has evolved into an extensive major project to build the solution from the ground up, using the latest technology.

In addition to leveraging the benefits of both solutions to the combined communities, several new features were considered to help increase analysts’ productivity and provide greater knowledge of the information that is vital for their business.

Some examples of potential innovations include:

  • Graphical view of table results to provide a visual snapshot of market data,
  • Tabbed search results to allow multiple and simultaneous queries that can be extracted and viewed,
  • Dynamic search-window functionality that shows results as analysts type,
  • Customized reports to allow automation and flexibility,
  • Modular data customizable to the user’s application.

The vast amount of data offered in Market Intelligence is expected and intended to provide users maximum flexibility in their analytical pursuits.

Often, the sheer amount of data can create a problem of how to view and interpret the data quickly and accurately. Historically, an analyst would have to labor through rows and columns of data to make an educated decision.

To address this industry-wide problem, Sabre Airline Solutions has partnered with Bis2 to offer unparalleled access and interpretation of large amounts of data.

Bis2 Super Graphics are the next generation of tools designed to quicken the process of understanding past and current market behavior. Interestingly, Bis2 Super Graphics have been used effectively in the gaming industry to interpret large amounts of data. Due to vast amounts of data being analyzed there, natural synergies exist with regard to the GDD data.

To visually indicate key strategic information and meaningful data patterns, Bis2 Super Graphics make excellent and innovative use of intensity-heat plots - paired with maps and charts.

The inclusion of this data-visualization feature is intended to provide users at every level of an organization the ability to understand large amounts of data in a timely manner and, ultimately, to increase productivity.

Diverse Usability Testing

Usability test participants represented distinct backgrounds from the airport data intelligence and market intelligence communities. Participants provided unique insight from the various customer groups to provide invaluable input into the design of the new market intelligence solution.

The Design

Once the goal to integrate current Market Intelligence solutions into a new, single application had been articulated, a user-friendly design needed to be established.

Airline and airport users provided input to help identify overall business flows and objectives. The user community specified key attributes and tasks:

  • Usage is frequent to constant.
  • Flexibility and control are very important.
  • Advanced analytical tasks are paramount.

Design must always begin through an understanding of the users, their tasks and the context of use. The result was that many different design elements were explored, incorporating various user-critical aspects.

And it was determined that the redesign should focus on providing efficiency for the user — and enable powerful analysis — while at the same time giving the user a high-level view and control of the data being extracted.

In addition to giving control to the user, the unique capability to generate a graphical output along with the data table was available as part of the redesign. Pairing these two elements could increase productivity by focusing the user’s attention on the most important aspects of the data.

Including a graphical output also presented the opportunity to incorporate visual devices such as dashboards and key performance indicators, which would provide for quick “health checks” of specific markets.

Design Validation

Sabre Airline Solutions development, delivery and solutions management teams provided key input about the design and interface of the new integrated solution.

While this involvement produced a great number of enhancements, those modifications would be of no benefit if they were not what the users wanted and needed to conduct their business. The main goal of the rewrite was to create a powerful application that would add business value and increase productivity.

Two usability tests validated the belief and intent that the advanced solution was progressing in the right direction.

Additionally, each of the tests placed users in front of the working development code to ensure they could navigate through and successfully extract data when working with the new application.

Overall, the results from the first usability test were positive and validated the general design concept, while also identifying areas that still required improvement.

A number of users who were involved in the first test provided clear direction regarding necessary improvements. Based on their feedback, enhancements were made prior to the second usability test. At that point - similarly to the first test results — users were pleased with the design and functionality of the new solution.

Extracting Relevant Market Data

The overall GDD creation process involves many detailed sources and steps to ensure the highest accuracy of data. It combines information from diverse global data sources into one dataset, providing users the ability to extract relevant market data for analysis.

Today And Beyond

The result is a fully integrated application — validated by existing users — that enhances the benefits of multiple legacy applications, includes strong data visualization and gives users the flexibility to manipulate data.

And the new Market Intelligence application continues to incorporate the initial goal from years past: providing users an application that could combine multiple data sources into one easy-to-use format.

But it now also offers the ability to include additional data sources, either as required by the user or as introduced by Sabre Airline Solutions.

Design flexibility has resulted in limitless potential and the critical capability to be adapted to customers' needs.

Those customers are global and encompass the greater airline and airport communities everywhere, in addition to those in related industries that rely on highly comprehensive, accurate, timely air-transportation information in a presentable, easy-to-understand format.

In fundamental ways, the combined innovations in transportation information have essentially revolutionized the aviation business intelligence landscape and now serve to position Market Intelligence at the forefront of this essential, hugely competitive information-gathering and - presentation function.

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