Ancillary revenues in the age of COVID-19: 6 companies paving the way

During the early stages of the financial crisis in 2008, our founder, Shashank Nigam, saw an opportunity to help airlines generate revenue through social media. And it worked! So here we are, 12 years later, finding ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, which by far is a much worse crisis than that of the late 2000s. Unlike the last crisis, this one has proven an extremely costly affair for aviation, not just in the loss of revenue, but in making many substantial capital expenditure investments along with a vast increase in ongoing operating expenses.

But just like Shashank saw an opportunity to use social media to generate revenue for airlines in 2008, today in 2020 there is a great opportunity for airlines and airports to double down on ancillary revenue generation, by fully embracing digital solutions to survive, and even thrive, in the age of COVID.

Through the SimpliFlying Launchpad, which aims to curate ready-to-deploy technologies that can help kickstart travel, we have selected 6 finalists from 27 applications, to present their ancillary revenue solutions to our 35+ airline and airport partners, for our next demo day taking place this Thursday, 13 August 2020 at 2 pm GMT. All airlines and airports are welcome to attend and can sign up here! You can also get in touch with us directly to arrange 1-1 meetings with any of the finalists listed below.

@AtYourGate – In-airport food delivery

In the age of COVID, social distancing at airports have made queues six times as long as they used to be. Centralised and busy food courts have become an undesirable place for travellers to hang-out due to the high concentration of people, and often times being located far away from the gates.

But @AtYourGate has a simple solution to all of this. With their app, passengers and even crew and airport staff can conveniently browse, order and pay directly from the app, which then sends the order directly to the restaurant, which is then picked up by an @AtYourGate brand ambassador, who delivers your meal straight to you, wherever you are in the airport. This means passengers no longer have to queue, which lowers the risk of catching the virus substantially. They can also order coffee, snacks, retail products, and virtually any other product that the airport has to offer.

Airfree – 21st Century in-flight shopping

In-flight duty-free shopping is set for an overhaul as the category starts competing with eCommerce. Bring in, airfree, which provides a way for airlines to digitize their entire duty-free shopping catalogue and put it on the IFE, personal devices and dedicated websites. Not only does airfree make it more convenient for travellers to shop for in-flight duty-free items, but it also does it in a much faster way than competitors. Their patent-pending solution bypasses the constraints of satellite connectivity offering airlines a powerful omnichannel e-commerce strategy.

Ariadne Maps – Google Analytics for the physical world

Airports have often complained that it’s the airlines that “own” the customer. What they really mean is that since the customer books through the airline and ultimately flies the airline, there is hardly any customer data that gets passed to the airports. This is set to change thanks to Ariadne Maps. A startup led by co-founders with PhDs allows airports to track customers from point A to B. Real-time analytics show which customers visit a set of businesses and allow airports to optimise the dwell time. The insights are so good that they will remind you of Google Analytics. Just that it’s for the physical, not the digital world.

Revenir – Making VAT refunds a breeze

Did you know that 23 billion euros in potential VAT refunds go unclaimed every year in Europe? An incredible 90% of eligible tourists do not claim their VAT refunds! And while this number is certainly surprisingly high, there is a perfectly sound explanation for it.  The process of claiming a VAT refund is an absolute hassle. You have to save all your receipts, fill out elaborate forms for every purchase, show up early at the airport to first get a stamp from Customs, and then go to another queue at the likes of Global Blue, get charged a 50% commission fees and then after all of that, still wait for months to receive the money in your bank account. Revenir’s app is making this process much simpler, and smoother, and shares revenue with airlines and airports too. What’s not to like?

So what does this have to do with airlines and airports making ancillary revenues you might ask? Well, airlines can at absolutely no charge and very easily provide this service through their frequent flyer programs, all the while taking a commission fee. How is that for a win-win? PS: If you do not want to take pictures of you receipts, they also have a credit card which takes of that process automatically.

TravelX- Personalised marketplace for the airport

Imagine extending the “golden hour” of airport retail to the “golden week”. With physical duty-free retail in decline, TravelX not only brings the airport duty catalogue online, but it also integrates with multiple channels to bring the goods to customers. With partnerships with the likes of Visa and Booking.com, TravelX allows airlines and airports to drive revenues by selling things that were traditionally sold on the day of travel, in the booking path.

RedAir – Automated and liability-free flight delay compensation

Did you know that Lufthansa paid €500 million in delay compensations in 2018?  But have you tried claiming compensation from an airline in the past? Isn’t it usually an ordeal? RedAir aims to change that with automated and instant flight delay compensation for passengers. Additionally, since the process is automated, RedAir is able to take away the liability from the books of airlines. Happy customers, happy airline executives.

These are some of the most promising technologies that will ensure that airlines and airports find new ways of driving revenues as they emerge from the crisis. One thing is for sure, air travel will not be the same as we knew it before the coronavirus hit us. So be prepared to use some of these new technologies and processes the next time you travel.

To see these technologies in action, sign up here to be a Corporate Partner if you are an airline or an airport. Or get in touch with us directly to arrange 1-1 meetings with any of the startups listed above.

Marc Weber Bång

Marc Weber Bång

Marc Weber Bång leads the SimpliFlying Global Institute, which provides online training courses and other resources for airlines, universities and agencies across the globe. He has 7 years of experience within the aviation industry, 3 of which he has been involved with SimpliFlying, where he has delivered masterclasses, held webinars, training sessions, and given talks and presentations to crowds of up to 600+ people. Marc holds a bachelors degree in International Marketing & Sales, and an MSc in Air Transport Management from Cranfield University. Marc is Danish, but he has also lived in Sweden, England, China and Spain, where he now resides with his family. He is a lifelong traveller, who has visited more than 30 countries, on 40 airlines, via 60+ airports on over 160 different routes.
Marc Weber Bång
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