Turning aircraft into retail shops in the sky - gategroup delivers a Black Swan moment 

10 May, 2018

A new disruptive alliance between gategroup member gatetretail and predictive analytics technology provider Black Swan will provide airline passengers with "unprecedented airline shopping choices for unique pre-, post- and in-flight dining, entertainment and travel experiences," according to the two companies.

gatetretail has forged a strategic partnership with Black Swan a firm specialising on data-driven passenger experience software, to overhaul the in-flight retail experience and broaden airline revenue streams. The alliance will deliver a platform that will allow travellers to use their personal electronic devices to browse and purchase movies, music, food, travel, duty-free and WiFi packages.

Leveraging on Black Swan's data-driven passenger experience software and gategroup's global retail network, serving 700+ million passengers a year, the alliance intends to transform aircraft into retail shops in the sky. As such airlines will be better able to cater to passenger product preferences on current, connecting, and future flights and share in expanded and newfound revenue opportunities, using gategroup's last-mile retail infrastructure and Black Swan's intelligent analytics services to make retail predictions for travellers across multiple channels.

gategroup works with the philosophy that there is "a critical balance between maximising retail revenues and enhancing the passenger experience," and believes this latest technological advancements perfectly meets that criteria.

"This alliance between gategroup and Black Swan signals an exciting new age of airline and travel retail, where we can effectively offer up with confidence an expanding lineup of products and services that passengers truly want to buy and enjoy in flight," says gategroup CEO, Xavier Rossinyol.

Black Swan sees the alliance as "the perfect combination of operational airline retail know-how combined to leading edge technology" that will allow travellers to select the products they want with the convenience of delivery to their seat as part of an enhanced flying experience.

The company uses a proprietary "NEST" platform to analyse vast amounts of data to quickly identify patterns, spot trends and make predictions and has already successfully worked with International Airlines Group (IAG) low cost, long haul subsidiary LEVEL to create an in-flight portal.

Passengers can connect to LEVEL's entertainment platform through a seat-back portal or through an app on their personal devices. Customers browse and purchase items onboard that include film, television and music releases, food, duty-free goods and WiFi packages. The use of advanced cryptology allows for secure payments that can be made even if the aircraft if offline, which allows normal operation if internet connectivity is not available.

"This innovative Pair and Pay functionality is unique to LEVEL, and the first in the airline industry," Black Swan has previously declared. Black Swan believes LEVEL benefits from obtaining end-to-end passenger usage and behaviour through automate reports to gauge insights and metrics, and "over time this will be integrated with other data sources to further enhance the customers' travel experience".