The airline industry has fallen behind other sectors regarding technology, and “needs to be shaken up”, delegates were told at the CAPA conference in Dublin.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said the customer has always been frustrated with a lack of technology offering from airlines and their outlook “is old-fashioned”.

“The industry needs a shake-up regarding technology, it hasn’t used customer data as well as it should have,” said Jacobs.

“I think there’s types of technology holding back the industry, and airlines compared to the way sectors such as retail are run is old-fashioned and it does need a change. And that will start to happen as customers take more control.”

Jacobs was joined on the panel by Sabre marketing VP Stan Boyer, Adara senior VP Tobias Wessels, and Car Trawler chief technology officer Bobby Healy. They were discussing disruption in the travel industry and where the next innovations will come from.

Healy agreed with Jacobs and said airlines must adopt a different approach and learn more from the retail model. “Airlines need to grab their customers more,” said Healy. “Just before I arrived on stage today Hailo sent me an email offering me to pre-book an airport taxi, so why are companies like Hailo and Uber doing that and not airlines?

“All these disruptors are coming out of nowhere and are exciting, because they don’t think about the way it used to be – they think about what’s achievable. So if I look at technology and the way it will go it’s through retailing. Airlines need to shift their products to customers in a way shops do it.”

Healy added: “There’s a lot of old men in the industry, and the real disruptors tend to be young people and they need to find a way to make sure those people make things happen.”

Wessels said that airlines need to do more with the data they have and look at “the importance of personalisation”. An example he used was attaining hotel data, find out who is staying in an expensive suite for a few nights and then target that traveller direct with offer for a business class seat.

Jacobs added that airlines need to “take control of their own destiny”, and not focus on “just what the technology partner says to do with its next version of its product”.

Subscribe to the BBT Newsletter

Join the Buying Business Travel newsletter for the latest business travel news.

Thank you for signing up!