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Malaysia Airports develops data insights to optimize customer satisfaction

Airport operator company, Malaysia Airports, with interests in Turkey, India, and South Asia, is working with Fusionex on a proof-of-concept: to develop a Business Intelligence platform to further enhance Malaysia Airports’ retailer management system within KLIA and provide value-added services for travelers.

Introduction

Malaysia Airports is an airport management company with a portfolio of almost 40 airports in and around South Asia and Turkey. Apart from the aeronautical business, the client also manages other portfolios including duty-free & retail operations, hotels, free commercial zones, commercial space leasing, and management of parking facilities. It also runs global training centers regarding airport management, airport fire & rescue services, and aviation security.

The Challenge

Malaysia Airports sought to enhance its customer data collection methods and determined to increase the accuracy of gathered information on the performance of its retail units within KLIA. This involves an approximately 400,000 square foot containing retail outlets at various locations including the arrival and departure halls as well as check-in counter areas. These outlets/locations see a fluctuating amount of shoppers at different times and days of the week.

Malaysia Airports aims to ramp up its data collection frequency near the shops area. A higher degree of prompt data collection would serve to accurately determine when promotional activities should be held, or if they were held – what their projected results would be. Accuracy of information garnered from this area is important to determine the customers’ hotspots and their spending trends.

A precise method to track spending trends at the terminal would allow Malaysia Airports to identify local shoppers and international travelers apart. This would also result in a more informed decision being made with regards to what the retail composition should be – whether the terminal should host more shops selling food, garments, souvenirs, or other goods base on the shoppers spending pattern and behaviour.

The Solution

A combination of the Fusionex Business Intelligence platform together with Internet of Things (IoT) devices was utilised to collect and manage the terminal’s retail data. Sensors were installed at the main terminal building’s arrival and departure halls and the contact piers for international and domestic flights.

Tracking the traveler jouney via the Fusionex BI Dashboard

Sensors are also placed in and around the airport’s retail sections to determine hotspots where the most retail activity occurred. The sensors are functioning independently without requiring wiring or lengthy installation methods. Among the sensors used were those with Bluetooth capabilities and Wi-Fi detection capabilities installed in collaboration with solution provider Tapway.

A mobile application was developed to track the basic demographic background of customers including details such as gender and nationality. A campaign was conducted to encourage travelers to sign up for the mobile app. The app could then use the demographic information to craft personalized marketing messages and promotions for the customers.

Using a wide set of connectors, various type of data set and system can be integrated into single platform with speed and ease. The dashboard reporting is then rendered automatic as well, giving the client the ability to view revenues in near real time. These endeavors were supported and co-funded by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The Benefits

The ability to receive performance data from their existing tenants quickly, together with traveler information from installed sensors, allowed Malaysia Airports to make more accurate decisions:

Understand traveler habits and shopper behavior, preferences. Malaysia Airports will be able to determine travelers’ flow and identify trends of unique shoppers via the installed sensors. Other than that, demographic data such as gender, date of birth and nationality will also be gathered to help Malaysia Airports understands which retail outlets appeal the most to which groups of people. This provides insights into what composition of retail outlets would be optimum in the airport – whether or not certain shops fit, and whether they fit better in domestic or international halls.

Ability to perform more accurate marketing efforts. Passengers’ traffic data gathered, which could be drilled down to daily and even hourly, could inform Malaysia Airports when would be the right time to hold promotional and marketing events within the terminal. Connectivity via travelers’ mobile devices provides a possibility for future marketing undertakings such as customer-specific push notifications. When walking near a particular shop which the traveler might be interested in, the platform pushes a notification to their phones for a promotion on items or services available.

Summary

By utilizing IoT devices and gathering useful data on a centralized system, Malaysia Airports is able to get a good overall view of its airport’s retail sector. Being provided with user-friendly BI dashboards also enable management-level personnel to get quick looks at the information to make timely and accurate data-driven decisions.

Industry: Aviation / Retail

Big Data Solutions Provider: Fusionex is an established multi-award winning IT software group that specializes in Analytics and Big Data. Their business is to help clients manage, make sense of and derive useful insights and information from the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data at their disposal. Fusionex is focused on bridging the gap between business and technology, and in doing so, providing an exceptional and positive experience to customers of various markets.

Enabling world class airport services through social data analytics

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) use of Big Data Analytics (BDA) enabled the world-class company to be proactive and responsive toward all public and passenger feedback – a critical factor with some 80 million people passing through their airports yearly. MAHB Customer Affairs and Resolution Excellence (CARE) unit working closely with its operations and commercial departments was designed to improve customer service acting on feedback from the public and passengers through traditional as well as social media channels. Berkshire Media was commissioned to undertake the massive effort to understand passenger behaviour by measuring customers’ perception and also to manage MAHB’s corporate reputation in the digital sphere. Real-time updates, weekly and monthly social data from MAHB passengers and customers were analysed using relevant keywords. Sentiment analysis and opinion mining were also deployed to predict customer sentiment towards MAHB.

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Challenges: With more than 80 million passengers passing through MAHB airports annually, the CARE unit was set up in April 2013 to improve the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) scoring set by the Airport Council International (ACI). CARE receives hundreds of feedback a month through traditional channels such as walk-ins, phone calls, emails and letters. These feedbacks, covering major airports within MAHB’s control, include suggestions, lost and found, enquiries, compliments and complaints.  In addition, growing internet usage by passengers and visitors to the major airports in Malaysia provide a new opportunity for MAHB to expand its feedback coverage to enhance its customer experience. Historical data from various social media channels recorded an average of 45,000 social media posts per month with an impression of 240 million users.

In 2014, Berkshire Media was commissioned to undertake the massive effort to understand passenger behaviour, by measuring customers’ perception and also to manage MAHB’s corporate reputation in the digital sphere. For the first time, official MAHB social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter were set up to encourage feedback, and an integrated social media communications campaign in conjunction with the opening of KLIA2 terminal was deployed. With a 45 million passenger capacity, KLIA2 is an iconic terminal to boost MAHB’s performance, mainly contributed by its unique targeted retail and commercial offerings attractive to passengers and airport visitors.

Solution: Real-time updates, weekly and monthly social data from MAHB passengers and customers were analysed using relevant keywords. Sentiment analysis and opinion mining performed using supervised machine learning algorithm in multiple languages were deployed to predict customer sentiment towards MAHB. Results alongside with recommendations were shared with the CARE team on a regular basis. The CARE team members, who are deployed at the heart of the action at various locations of the airports, play a vital role in responding to specific issues based on social media feedback.

The value of big data analytics on customer feedback management is significant as we challenge ourselves to provide better passenger experience in all our airports through new customer engagement channels such as social media. –  Nik Anis, General Manager of MAHB Corporate Communications

A set of management dashboards for the purpose of weekly and monthly reporting were developed to provide the necessary insights, highlights and lowlights of what the public are saying in the social media sphere based on various topics. These reports are highlighted to the management of MAHB as a means to improve the overall customer service through MAHB social media channels, on-ground customer service, operations and others.  Sentiment was measured on a weekly and monthly basis to ensure the overall public sentiment towards MAHB was kept at a manageable level.

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Example of a weekly sentiment tracking showing the positive (green), negative (red) and neutral (grey) posts from social media users on airport experiences and MAHB-related topics.

Business Benefits: Six months after the new KLIA2 airport was opened to the public, more than 200k social media posts were analysed to gauge the sentiment or customer satisfaction level of the new airport. The posts were accumulated through weekly and monthly analysis reports given to MAHB’s CARE Team. Using BDA coupled with the right communication strategies, the total number of positive posts was estimated at 72k compared to 27k negative posts, while the remaining posts were tagged as neutral. On a week to week basis, the number positive posts increased by more than 1000%. MAHB’s Facebook likes increased from 2,000 to 90,000 in eight months, while Twitter followers increase from 8,000 to 15,000 within the same period.

Positive posts were in the form of excitement, compliments and other positive experiences from the airports’ retail, ambience and customer travelling experience. Meanwhile, a handful of customer complaints on walking distance, food prices and parking charges were tracked and handled through various operational improvements. For example, on the issue of lengthy walking distance between the departure halls to the boarding gates, MAHB decided to install 16 walkalators in strategic areas of the airport to ease passenger convenience. In addition, free buggy service was aggressively marketed to increase awareness among selected passengers.

Never ignore the voice of social media. 45,000 social media posts by passengers going through the airports per month means customer satisfaction levels change every day. –  Shahid Shayaa, Managing Director of Berkshire Media

The Future: Applying predictive analytics on location-based social data will enable MAHB to anticipate customers’ needs in specific locations of the airport. For example, with location-based social media monitoring technologies, passengers who use social media to post upon arrival or departure can expect pleasant surprises from MAHB’s social media team. Retail promotions on selected products at the duty free shops can be made available by pushing targeted messages to customers at the departure or arrival halls.

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Location-based monitoring capabilities will enable better customer feedback management that addresses customer issues or complaints at specific locations of the airports.

Industry: Aviation – Airport Management

Big Data Solutions ProviderBerkshire Media is a fast growing social analytics firm founded by engineers, marketers and communication strategists on the premise that the best communication strategies are built with data-driven campaigns. Their approach enables companies to utilise big data analytics to optimize campaign resources, manage corporate reputation and risks, adopt behaviour-based micro-targeted campaigns and other applications.

The company integrates the best diagnostics and predictive analytics technologies to translate social data into meaningful insights for corporations, advertising agencies, communication strategists and campaign managers.  They have rigorously extracted and analysed a great number of social data to assist clients, which include a Fortune Global 500 company, large conglomerates and public listed companies, to turn knowledge into actionable insights in order to make better or critical decisions that can transform and improve businesses.

Client Profile: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) manages 5 international gateways, 16 domestic airports and 18 short take-off and landing ports that serve the rural and remote areas in Malaysia.  MAHB also owns or manages overseas airports namely Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.  MAHB recorded a total of 83.3 million passenger movement nationwide in 2014, with more than 40 million passengers travelling through KLIA, its flagship airport.

Industrial internet creates the world’s most efficient airline

AirAsia’s unique no-frills business concept is an innovation that has changed the airline business forever and now this trailblazing group is harnessing cutting edge data capture and analytics technology to ensure that its low fares and market leadership for the budget sector are maintained for its customers. The AirAsia Group has the most extensive network and most frequencies to destinations around the region but with intensified competition and increased operational costs industry-wide, the company was under pressure to increase savings and enhance efficiencies; with technological support from big data analytics (BDA) and the use of the industrial internet which covers the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software, and combining it with an internet interface, has helped the airline ingest data from such machinery, analyse it in real time, and adjust operations to increase cost efficiencies. In particular, the Flight Efficiency Services (FES) provided by General Electric (GE), has helped AirAsia make those significant savings by evaluating and qualifying its savings opportunities.

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Challenges:
Although AirAsia still reaps the benefits of first mover advantage in several of its markets and continues to outperform nearly all of its peers, competition has intensified as other regional airlines look to duplicate its winning formula.  With the airline using some 1.4 billion kg of fuel each year (or approximately 12 million barrels of fuel) and with fuel taking up 50 percent of its overall costs, optimising fuel efficiency was a primary concern.  This made it imperative for the airline to boost its fuel savings as well as to optimise navigation performance and procedures.

Solution:
FES utilises the power of the industrial internet to help AirAsia make significant savings by implementing precision navigation services, flight data analytics and fuel management services.  The GE FES data-driven services are used to identify ways to reduce operating costs, increase aircraft utilisation and obtain savings throughout the AirAsia network; the target being the bottom-line operational savings of approximately USD30-50 million over a five year period.

The FES-AirAsia team use advanced data analytics to evaluate and qualify savings opportunities, before deploying airline and change management expertise to implement changes to operational policies and procedures, where the outcomes are measured and reported using dashboards. FES has enabled AirAsia to optimise climb profiles; launch a single-engine taxi program; use sophisticated statistical algorithms to plan taxi and contingency fuel requirements; optimise departure tracks; and minimise the use of the plane’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).

Another way efficiency is gained is by Required Navigation Performance (RNP) which is a performance-based navigation procedure that enables an aircraft to precisely fly optimal predetermined paths by using a combination of modern flight management computers, GPS technology and innovative procedure design. The RNP paths reduce flight distances as well as help aircraft navigate safely in challenging terrain and weather.

airasiaAirAsia is the first Malaysian airline to fly new efficient flight paths using Required Navigation Performance (RNP) flight paths

Business Benefits:
The ongoing collaboration between GE FES and AirAsia in utilising data capture and analytics software has helped AirAsia save over 1% in fuel expenditure yearly so far. The approval from the Department of Civil Aviation to enable single engine taxi-in and taxi-out translates into 68 kg of fuel savings per flight; this strategy was a first for a Malaysian airline. Climb profile optimization saved an additional 21.24 kg of fuel on each flight, and the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Precision Guided Approach saved 15 miles per landing.

The Future:
There is tremendous potential for AirAsia to continue harnessing the power of the industrial internet to connect people, machines, and BDA to deliver better outcomes. In aviation, GE’s integrated flight data and analytics provide insights to identify and implement sustainable fuel savings. Its patented performance analytics combine an aircraft’s flight data, weather, navigation, risk data and fuel operation to provide business intelligence for significant cost savings. And its intelligent operations provide airlines and cargo carriers around the world with services focused on improving efficiency by leveraging aircraft performance data, prognostics and recovery. Clearly, efficiencies for the airline go beyond the physical engine. It is about using data and analytics to continuously identify ways to reduce operating costs, increase aircraft utilization and improve the way we fly.