Airlines today leverage terabytes of data to gather actionable insights that influence decision making – from revenue management and route planning to customer behavior mapping and MRO management – data is what enables them to ensure profitability and efficiency. Companies store historical data, from as far back as three years, to analyze trends for pricing and prepare better for seasonal shifts in demand. Moreover, with omnichannel marketing and sales becoming the norm, data is the cornerstone of business enablement; and staying ahead of the competition is largely dependent on which player can monetize data more effectively. Hence, it is imperative that airlines track granular market movements with on-demand reports and market dynamics to execute pricing decisions that resonate with millennial travelers.

However, gathering, storing and managing large volumes of customer data containing personally identifiable information (PII) can prove to be expensive, effort-intensive and may expose companies to compliance risks associated with stringent data privacy regulations like the GDPR. Furthermore, knowing what data to acquire, how much of it to store and for how long is a complex equation to solve – one which requires deep domain expertise, technical prowess and understanding of the latest market trends. Too much and your costs will skyrocket, too little and you compromise on the quality of insights you can derive from that data.

The Opportunity Cost of Data

Millennials and new-age business travelers are living their lives on the go. They are digitally-savvy and always connected to the internet. Consequently, most of their interactions with airlines are via digital channels – websites, social media, travel booking portals, mobile applications, and more. That implies there is no dearth of data which can be used to gain actionable insights for detecting revenue leakage and ensuring maximum revenue realization.
Enabling accurate, data-driven decision making however requires aviation companies to aggregate the right data points. For instance, understanding customer preference requires information such as departure and arrival time, checked-in luggage, dietary preferences, destination, in-flight retail engagements, and such. A combination of those data points helps analysts to deduce critical insights into what a customer is looking for and how much they are willing to pay for the service. Furthermore, it helps them predict demand, which affects other functions across the value chain, including airline pricing strategy, route planning, marketing promotion, order management, and maintenance scheduling.

The inability to gather the right data (or the optimal volume of data points) can prove to be detrimental to the operational performance and market share of the airline, resulting in significant financial impact. You may ask, why is that the opportunity cost of data? The answer is not straightforward and may require an in-depth analysis of your airline operations, customer landscape and existing technology environment. However, the cost you may incur by not leveraging data optimally can be calculated in terms of revenue leakage, customer churn and operational inefficiencies that could have been avoided by putting in place a robust data management and analytics strategy.

How Much is Too Much

On the flip side, storing and processing excessive volumes and types of data can have damaging effects as well. Managing unnecessary data translates to greater chances of errors in analysis, higher storage costs, wasted effort, and most importantly, insights that may not be as focused as you would like them to be. It would almost be like finding a needle in a haystack, where analysts would be sifting through a lot of noise to unearth valuable information.

Some industry experts call it “data saturation,” and it is a serious problem for organizations looking to translate data to insights to actual revenue. While our ability to store more data has increased exponentially, our capabilities to support, filter and manage the data have not kept up.

So, What is the Solution?

The answer lies in being ‘optimal’. Organizations need to determine the sweet spot that balances too much with too little. In an industry like aviation industry which is expected to see 1 billion air-taxi flights by 2030, it’s easier said than done. Ginormous amounts of data make it extremely difficult to arrive at the optimum levels enough for deriving actionable intelligence.

One of the ways, we are solving this problem at RateGain is by “Smart Shopping” – a novel approach that involves analyzing your business intelligence and reporting needs on a real-time basis and suggesting how much data you need to fulfill those needs. The approach is dynamic, hyper-customizable, and closely aligned with the strategic business objectives of a client. We study their business processes, analyze the available data, perform factor analysis and consult on the right type and size of data to be stored and processed. As a result, clients experience an accelerated data to decisions journey with improved Big Data return on investment.


Mastering Big Data management and analytics is the key to achieving competitive advantage, improving responsiveness to market opportunities and streamlining business operations in the aviation industry. Airlines may make strategic investments in underlying data technology, hire the best talent and enable digital customer journeys to gather more data, however, that strenuous effort may go in vain if a prudent data management policy is not defined.
To learn how RateGain helps airlines design and implement holistic solutions to make the most of their data, write to

About the Author

Shikha Chadha
Vice President – Product Management