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Getting Back to Basics

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The consistent message delivered by participants in the Women in the C-Suite: The Chief Commercial Officer panel, was that after three years of pandemic-related disruptions, airlines need to deliver on the basics.

“We’re very much focused on providing customers with a seamless journey…[and] making sure that we’re delivering the basics brilliantly,” said Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer.

“What the customer really wants is to reach their destination on time. That’s why for us, the most relevant thing is to be reliable,” stated Maria Jesus Lopez Solas, Chief Commercial, Network & Alliances Officer, Iberia.

“The customer just wants to arrive, with their baggage. I know this doesn’t sound like a huge thing, but I think in the last year, when passengers were traveling and not getting their baggage, the basics are really, really important,” agreed Singapore Airlines Senior VP Marketing Planning Jo-Ann Tan.

Although moderator Richard Quest described this as “a fairly low bar,” the panelists declined to be budged, although Tan added that in addition to the basics, customers want “a more seamless, touchless digital experience,”

The panelists also agreed that where practical, customers prefer self-serve options. “Our attention is very much focused on enabling customers to self-serve. Customers want to be in control of their travel arrangements, particularly when things go wrong,” said ANZ’s Geraghty.

But she also observed that ability to give passengers more control is hampered by the industry’s “out of date” legacy platforms…We need to accelerate the process to a modern retail environment.” Geraghty cited as an example ANZ’s new SkyNest product. “We need to have the retailing technology to seamlessly sell that through all channels,” she said, which is not the case today.

Turning to the theme of Women in the C-Suite, Tan cited the lack of female role models when she began her career, noting that this is different today.

As a parent of four, Geraghty recalled that there was little accommodation for working mothers when she began her aviation career. “Industry and society have come a long way in that regard,” she added.

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