Building a business case for customer
MDM in the travel and aviation sector

Travel and aviation companies hold trillions of bytes of data on their customers – but is that data really giving an accurate insight into those customers? If it isn’t, airlines, airports and other travel organisations are losing out on transformative opportunities to use data to increase efficiency, engage their customers, secure bookings and better manage their resources. Yet how can they know for sure whether their data really is telling the complete truth about their customers in order to have confidence in their data-driven actions? This is where Customer Master Data Management comes in.

While business leaders are quick to commit investment into exciting data-driven opportunities like AI, RPA and machine learning, securing funds for software and systems that manage data at a more fundamental level can be difficult. Master Data Management (MDM) is key to making sure that customer data is reliable in order to fuel those exciting innovations, but building a business case for it isn’t always easy. In this article, we look at some of the key ways that Master Data Management can add value to organisations to help build a compelling business case for Master Data Management – unlocking unique insight into your customers and driving business success. 

What is Customer Master Data Management?

Customer Master Data Management is a strategy that ensures consistency, accuracy, and completeness of customer data across all your travel and aviation business systems. Imagine a central hub for all customer information – a single source of truth. This empowers you to understand your customers better and leverage that understanding for strategic advantage.

Why is Customer Master Data Management Important?

Fragmented customer data leads to missed opportunities. You might send irrelevant marketing campaigns, fail to recognise customer preferences, or miss upselling chances. This can result in:

Wasted marketing budgets

Poor customer experiences

Lost revenue opportunities

Benefits of Customer Master Data Management for Travel and Aviation Businesses

By implementing a customer master data management solution, travel and aviation businesses can unlock a treasure trove of benefits:

Personalised Customer Experiences

Deliver targeted marketing campaigns, recommend relevant travel options, and remember customer preferences for a seamless journey. This fosters customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increased Revenue

Upsell ancillary services based on customer data. Identify upselling opportunities you might have missed before and boost your bottom line.

Improved Operational Efficiency

Clean and organised data streamlines processes, reduces errors, and simplifies booking management. This leads to cost savings in the long run.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Gain valuable insights from customer data to optimise pricing strategies, improve resource allocation, and make informed business decisions.

Why Do Travel and Aviation Businesses Need Customer Master Data Management?

The time is ripe for investment in innovation. Air travel is finally starting to recover to its pre-pandemic levels, with more than 224 million passengers travelling in and out of UK airports in 2022. Yet competition is fierce. Pricing sensitivity is so acute that customers can be won by the difference of a pound or two on short-haul flights. Loyalty to a particular airline or travel provider is increasingly rare.

For forward-thinking companies, this is an opportunity for take-off. Customers are hungry for better service, greater value, and booking experiences that feel personalised and seamless. Meanwhile, travel and aviation leaders are looking for greater efficiencies, increased net profit per passenger, and ways to recover the losses suffered during successive lockdowns and restrictions on travel.

Yet to do any of this, good quality data is needed: data that can be relied on to give accurate insight and accelerate the journey to all of these business objectives, not veer your strategy off course. When it comes to customer data in particular, remaining compliant and acting ethically is also essential to successfully using data without falling foul or regulations or poor customer feedback. Again, the only way that businesses can do this with confidence is with MDM.

Unlocking The Power of Customer Data Through Master Data Management

Master Data Management is about bringing together disparate data sources to create one, clear picture – a ‘single version of the truth’. By breaking down siloes and giving one shared platform for customer data, we can understand customers as people, rather than seeing a sprawl of bookings and notes and details, with no clear narrative tying them together.

Master Data Management is an approach, as well as the technology that underpins it. At the heart of MDM is the importance of creating a single point of truth for each customer - the “golden record” – that can be used by all departments and all software. This replaces the information held in siloes by different teams, in different places, using different systems, ensuring that the same data is informing all relevant decision-making.

Customer Master Data Management in practice in Travel and Aviation

Let’s take the award-winning airline Jet2. It held 68 million customer records, spread across eight data sources. The data model meant that every time a new booking was made, it potentially created a new customer account. Duplicate records made it impossible to clearly view a customer’s complete booking history. 

Agile Solutions introduced MDM to cleanse and standardise data and enable Jet2 to recognise when different members of the same household were making bookings. For the first time, Jet2 were able to see a complete customer view – meaning they could see their customers as people and households, rather than standalone bookings. As a result of Agile Solutions’ support, Jet2 were able to develop hyper-targeted marketing campaigns, transform data quality and governance, and ultimately secure more bookings. 

With the right support from an expert provider like Agile Solutions, customer master data management can transform outcomes in priority areas for aviation and travel companies.

Building a business case: Highlight examples like Jet2, where investment in MDM has had a tangible impact pm commercial business results. Present scenarios where having reliable, centralised data could transform your own business outcomes – and ability to innovate.

Tailored experiences throughout the customer journey

According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers now expect personalisation - and more than three-quarters (76%) get frustrated if they don’t find it. By creating one golden record for each customer, MDM makes data cleaner, more comprehensive and more coherent. This opens up a world of possibilities for personalisation and customisation.

Businesses can make hyper-targeted offers, based on a customer’s travel preferences or their pattern of destinations. This maximises the efficiency of marketing efforts. After all, there’s no point offering discounts on long-haul flights and standard economy seats to someone who has only flown to Europe for the past decade and always requests extra legroom. 

Master Data Management enables those special touches, such as recalling at check-in that a customer usually orders a Halal meal, and checking whether they would like to do so again. Or brokering partnership deals with relevant air-side providers to elevate customer service. You might automate special offers at a retailer just next to the right gate or send customers a voucher for a nearby restaurant if their flight is delayed.

Master Data Management is about showing the customer exactly what they need to find, exactly when they need to find it - saving them time and frustration and winning long-term loyalty.

Building a business case: Demonstrate the competitive necessity for personalisation. This is no longer a nice to have: it’s a must-have in today’s market. Highlight how Master Data Management, by making better quality data fully accessible, can enable more targeted marketing and bespoke experiences, increasing the likelihood of marketing converting to sales and driving retention.

Seamless cross-channel interactions

It used to be that customers would have just one or two touchpoints with a brand before making a purchasing decision. Calling the phone number for the company they already trusted, for example, or going to their local high street agent. Now research suggests one person can have anything from 20 to a staggering 500+ touchpoints throughout their customer journey.

To keep up with this explosion of online and offline interaction, it’s not just about offering the right deal to the right person. It’s about being present wherever that customer browses and being consistent in what they experience. Master Data Management is essential here, both to understand and analyse customer behaviours across multiple platforms and to ensure you’re meeting the customer where they are – with information and offers uniquely right for them.

Understanding their complete booking and engagement history opens up the opportunity to upsell those ancillary extras that make all the difference to net profit per passenger: extra luggage allowance, free Wifi, upgrading to premium economy.

Building a business case: Explain how Master Data Management facilitates upselling while providing a more valuable and seamless customer experience. Calculate example savings and profit increases in targeted areas: for example, how much you could increase profit if a percentage of customers were successfully served the right deal at the right time thanks to well managed data.

Improved operations and better resource management

With Master Data Management , customer data is clean and optimised from the point of collection. Clear processes, thanks to data quality and data governance initiatives, make it easy for staff members to know how to input and access data correctly: reducing risk and boosting compliance. Having a central, accurate source of well-managed data can also make reliable data available for automations, streaming and processes that increase efficiency. All of these benefits can directly reduce operational costs across the business. 

Master Data Management can also drive profit through innovation – for example, by enabling data analysts to accurately identify trends that impact decision-making. They might start understanding why their most frequent flyers tend to be lower-margin than one-off bookings, and how personalised marketing campaigns could change that outcome, before exploring innovation and data-driven automations along that enhance that process. This approach could even ultimately result in more optimised resourcing, with everything from food to fuel calculations driven by accurate, timely data.

The more streamlined the master data management approach is at the outset, the more robust and valuable customer data becomes. At Agile Solutions, we’ve seen time and again how master data management leads to tangible gains in efficiency, multiplied across the whole business. 

From your customers’ perspectives? They can trust that you are handling their personal information securely, while knowing exactly how to add value that perfectly meets their needs.

Building a business case: Secure buy-in across the business by illustrating its value. Show how they could streamline processes, drive efficiencies and generate insights. Constantly remind teams of the legal and moral necessity of good data governance, and the positive impact it can have on their own role.

Securing buy-in for Management Data Management

Whatever your organisation’s digital goals, accurate, reliable and up-to-date data is essential to making them a success. In travel and aviation, MDM can be the ideal solution – especially when dealing with the complexities of customer data. To secure buy-in for MDM, you need to illustrate how it can directly impact the business commercially in the here and now, as well as its important role in laying the groundwork for future data objectives.

Keen to learn more? Download our in-depth guide on MDM for the aviation and travel sectors below.