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Big Interview: Amadeus Nevio tech promises full service capabilities for all airlines

European aviation technology giant has unveiled a next generation retailing system at this week’s IATA World Passenger Symposium in Chicago.

The new platform, called Nevio, is underpinned by advanced data analytics and has been developed to embrace open cloud IT architecture in partnership with Microsoft.

It accords with emerging ‘One Order’ standards being devised by global aviation body IATA that are expected to see airlines ditch traditional Passenger Services Systems.

Speaking to ABN ahead of this week’s launch, Meg O’Keefe, Amadeus vice president, airlines customer unit – Altea product and portfolio management, said Nevio is transformative.

She described it as completely newbuild technology that “will allow airlines to explore how to be best in class digital retailers”.

A traveller centric platform

She added that it is driven by “insights that are traveller-centric” that “gives airlines flexibility to control and differentiate the proposition they put in the marketplace”.

One of the key applications of Nevio is expected to be bringing full service capabilities to the low cost sector by addressing the “breakpoints” for supply of a broader range of content.”

“It gives them the ability to sell more and to sell better across the network of partners that they have,” said O’Keefe.

“And it allows the airline to optimise profitability and revenue generation according to consumers’ willingness to pay.”

Due to the modular nature of the platform, Nevio, is compatible with other systems in the airline technology ecosystem and allows systems to be built that configure with it.

“The intention is to bring simplification and intuitive value to the market. It’s a shift for the industry and for Amadeus – our way of opening up retailing potential for our airlines.

“Airlines largely sell the flight and separately append sequentially that with the seats, bags, meals – the rather predictable ancillary services and merchandising propositions.

“What we’re talking about with Nevio is bringing in the advantages of the retailer supplier approach, accessing partner content more easily for faster integration of content.

“That could be supplementary services: a hotel, rail, lounge access, or airport parking. There’s a range of possibilities depending on the deal and physical location and brand.

“Nevio is a content agnostic new offer management system. A new order management system, and all of the financial processes needed behind it, must work in an agnostic sense.”

As the industry transitions to a new era of retailing, Nevio is expected to support the airlines as they move into the new world and leave legacy systems behind.

O’Keefe said: “This is brand new technology built in line with industry transformations. It’s something that will take time to progressively deliver towards that target state.

“We will have capabilities to bring in new capabilities and remove legacy and old ways of doing things but retain backward compatibility for business continuity.”

Not just a ‘massive shop front’

Amadeus is working closely with a number of airlines on proof-of-concept projects with Finnair, an early adopter of Nevio, already putting a timeline on retiring its legacy systems.

O’Keefe said the vision is more than just trying to turn airlines into digital retailers every bit as good as the leading native online merchandisers.

“Selling more is one part, but the big value that retailers have is the ability to interact with the traveller, to know what it is that they want, not just hit them with a massive shop front.

“It’s even more that, it’s the ability to deliver, because retailing isn’t just selling – It’s the servicing, it’s the delivery.

“If you take the example of Amazon, they are so relevant and valuable because they honour the delivery. It’s fast, it’s reliable, you know what’s happening, they tell you.”

O’Keefe added: “There’s a fundamental business process change that’s required. The airlines still have their value chain. They’re going to still want to sell.

“Selling is complicated in the new technology, but it is achievable. The hard bit is making sure that it fits around the transformed ecosystem.

“What I’m talking about is that you have accuracy, you don’t have fragmentation, that you always know exactly where you are.

“You have one record orchestrating the entire experience of the traveller. The biggest challenge is making sure not just the selling is okay but servicing, delivery and accounting.

“The whole purpose of this transformation is not just the upfront shopfront, but very much the end-to-end.

Airlines are ready for change

“Nevio is about making sure airlines can achieve their business potential. That’s actually a big step. It’s a big programme of work that an airline needs to think about.

“Airlines are really ready to change. The pandemic accelerated the willingness to innovate and highlighted the fundamental need to move now.

“The trick is making sure the business process changes behind it, rather than repeat current process; copy and paste across into a new platform. That’s what we’re going to avoid.”

Following an, at times, strained and protracted adoption of Iata’s New Distribution Capability protocols, O’Keefe said there is a “different dynamic at play” today.

“NDC is removing some constraints in the pursuit of opening up the ability to do more real-time personalised selling by an airline and changing airline control.

“But in today’s world, you don’t have offers or orders fully entrenched, which means it has to be backward compatible on to legacy processes.

“That’s a large part of the adoption problem with NDC because it has to depend on legacy to make it work.

“If we move, and we will, to offer and order across the ecosystem NDC is already in place. It’s going to shift and it’s going to get adoption very, very quickly.

“The big test then will be around the commercial relationships airlines have with their partners and the business model they’re putting in place.

“But we’re going to enable it regardless and the systems will be there to make them able to deploy whatever commercial model they come up with.

“If it’s a philosophical obstruction, that’s a little harder to change through technology. If it’s a technology blocker, which is often the case, that’s something we will lift.”

Flyers promised a more frictionless experience

O’Keefe explained what this means for the traveller: “It means you don’t have to search everywhere first to find what you want because the airline knows who you are.

“A traveller centric platform means we understand at all times what the context is with the most up to date information that can be as detailed or general as is available.

“If someone likes to book seats three days before departure but never before don’t send them an email about it 300 days before departure. It’s probably not going to convert.

“We could also look at their loyalty miles balance and come back with different pricing propositions like an upgrade. Then you’ve got things in the airport environment.

“Self service is also a key one and what’s going to be, we believe, a fundamental departure from today is the ease at which travellers can serve themselves through automation.

“It allows you to remove certain unnecessary practices for example at the airport. Why do you need to check in? It should expedite the boarding process, the path through an airport.

“The big departure is going to be the frictionless way airline customers are going to service themselves and how airlines are going to handle exceptional istances like disruption.

“That’s going to be a massive win for the industry, for the travellers, and for the airlines.”

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