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The Path to Airport Digital Revenue Growth: Project Roles & Responsibilities

January 16, 2023
Author Daniel HallerDaniel HallerDelivery Success Lead, Omnevo

In his two previous blogs in this three-part series looking at digital revenue adoption by airports, Daniel firstly outlined the compelling commercial rationale of ‘Why?’ airports should develop a digital revenue platform. He then explained the ‘How?’ - detailing the phased program in the creation of a digital revenue platform. Now he explains ‘Who?’ – highlighting the key roles required across the joint airport-Omnevo team to make the project a success.

A guide to the roles and skills needed by airports to implement a digital revenue solution.

From 20 years’ experience in digitalization projects, I always recommend that the airport starts by creating a dedicated project team. This team will drive the project within the airport and will integrate with the Omnevo project team throughout the phased program. As every project is unique, the precise number, roles and skills required of each airport’s team will vary according to the project scale, its requirements and scope, as well as the level of resources available to the airport.  

The roles I outline in this blog are not prescriptive but are useful simply to help define the pivotal areas of responsibility. Also, the roles will require flexibility and adjustment as the project progresses, particularly in the major shifts that occur in the transition of phases, especially the progressions from Launch to Operations and from Planning to Implementation phases. 
 

Across the key phases in a digitalization project, success is built around a number of pivotal roles but everything is built on a team ethos.

Phase 1:

Discovery

In a series of shared workshops, the joint airport-Omnevo team establish the aims, governance, and dependencies of the project, establishing a design path for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - culminating in a Solution Design.

The airport’s team leaders will kick-start the project, engaging, inspiring, and guiding their key staff and stakeholders. There are three key airport roles in the Discovery phase, the foundation planning phase –these roles drive their area of the project and coordinate with all relevant stakeholders both within the airport and with the appropriate specialists at Omnevo. 

  • Project Manager
    This position carries the central responsibility for the progress of the whole project, gelling the team together through clear planning and direction. Responsibilities include project reporting and overall project planning. 
  • Product Owner
    Defining the airport’s vision for the product (the platform) and coordinating across all stakeholders involved in product development. 
  • Technical Architect
    Defining and documenting the solution architecture and coordinating all technical stakeholders on the airport side.

Phase 2:

Set up and implementation

The MVP is created. Omnevo’s team build the infrastructure, configure components, develop customizations, and establish integrations. From this original MVP, enhanced iterations are developed.

Depending on the airport’s available resources and the project scale, the airport team can be adjusted to new needs and priorities as the project evolves. For example, this can include three guiding roles in the program, focused on the fine-tuning of operations, platform quality and reliability, and the development of platform features:

  • E-Commerce-/Marketplace Manager: Focused on operational tasks.
  • Quality Assurance Manager & Tester: Ensuring quality and reliability.
  • Business Consultant/Analyst:The airport utilizes a specialist (internal or external) to develop analysis of how further developments and additional elements might further strengthen the platform, such as further advancing the customer user experience with new features. 

Across the airport team, close co-ordination with relevant airport departments (especially CRM, Loyalty, IT etc) and with Retail partners is needed to bring the right people to the table at the right time and support a smooth integration. This focus on coordination is a key element for the Project Manager but the responsibility can be allocated across roles, as necessary.

Phase 3:

Quality Assurance (QA) & Roll-out

QA demands intensive testing and a full Test Plan, including bug fixing cycles. The platform’s content, product data, etc. is imported, migrations finalized - final rollout begins.

The QA phase is launched by Omnevo’s role in testing, bug fixing and ensuring the quality and reliability of the platform as it reaches Roll-out. We always recommend that airports implement their own QA program. The Omnevo team conduct their test program first (FAT - Factory Acceptance Testing), and then the airport will conduct its own user testing (UAT, User Acceptance Testing). In addition, non-functional requirements must be tested, and we find that most airports hire external service providers for Pen- and Security, for example.

Phase 4:

Post-launch Hypercare

In this high-pressure phase, Omnevo provides intensified support to the airport team as they embed their new system.

By sharing an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, we can quickly address any issues arising in this early post-launch phase. Typical requests are help with editorial changes, setting up the first promotions and discounts, editing product data etc. As the airport team soon gain confidence and speed in managing the platform, we then settle into the full-scale Ops-phase and they take control of the commercial running and management of the platform.

Phase 5:

Support and Operations

The platform’s versatility enables it to be constantly evolved – expanding and adapting to the needs of the airport and its customers.

Once the airport has assumed full operational control of the ‘live’ platform, we then see another shift in the required roles. The airport team grow in both confidence and familiarity with their new platform, they then gain a wider view of its true potential and start sharing exciting ideas to enhance it. This often includes analyzing the web-tracking data, adjusting the product range and pricing, setting up promotions, and thinking about marketing for the platform, e.g. using editorial or shoppable content, social media channels etc. In essence, it all comes down to a simple but vital question: How to drive traffic to the platform and increase the conversion? This inevitably includes ideas for new technical features – which the future-proofed platform can adopt at any time - and the team are now totally in tune with their platform. 

Marketing focus

The role of Marketing to fuel the platform’s performance becomes absolutely critical. For example, the Business Consultant/Analyst role recedes and new functions, such as web tracking, customer analysis, content management, customer segmentation, SEO, social media etc, become vital in optimizing the platform’s commercial effectiveness. This evolution of roles makes it critical from the very start of the project that the airport should plan the skills and roles needed at each phase of the project. 

Flexibility of roles

Throughout the project, please also bear in mind that the project’s scale and complexity will determine the precise team roles needed, and these may well vary both in the amount of input required and the timing of that input from each stakeholder. The project might also utilize a mix of internal staff and external consultants and specialists to fil the roles. In many projects, we find that airports may have team members able to take cross-functional roles or shared responsibilities; we are always open to flexibility in how we work together and share in the delivery of the project.

Omnevo support

The standard project team from Omnevo is a very lean supporting team, usually consisting of two essential roles, summarized below: 

  • Project Manager
    Coordinating collaboration and milestones, responsible for project delivery, financial controlling, progress reporting, etc. 
     
  • Consultant / Technical Architect
    Supporting the architecture and planning of integrations, facilitating technical workshops and supporting requirements engineering.

This core team is usually sufficient to roll out a project that has very few or no customizations, limited mostly to existing out of the box-functionalities and will be adequate for ‘start small and grow’ strategies. 

For large-scale projects, the team can expand with up to five further roles to create the capacity to handle any project size and any level of complexity. 

  • Proxy Product Owner
  • Consultant / Technical Architect 
  • Quality Management
  • Release Manager
  • User Experience (UX) Specialist. 

While designed for major platform development, these additional supports can also be utilized on projects of any scale, should the airport require specialist input in any of these project areas.

The scale of Omnevo’s input will, inevitably, be at its highest in the Implementation phase but we don’t impose our supporting input inputs as a package; we ensure that the airport receives support tailored precisely to the specific needs of the project and we also adapt according to the technical and specialist inputs that the airport itself can provide. 

Share the driving

Regardless of the project scale, the close cohesion between the airport and Omnevo creates powerful efficiencies and synergies to drive the project. In adopting a shared approach on large-scale projects, we also recommend setting up a joint Project Steering Committee, made up of senior representatives of the airport and members of the Omnevo team. This co-ordination and information sharing at a senior level is very effective in the early phases in establishing and managing the project roadmap and also helps to identify upcoming problems and quick decision-making.

  •      Review overall project progress and key milestones
  •      Review major project risks and impediments
  •      Act as escalation instance
  •      Making decisions on fundamental project issues, such as timings or scope
  •      Review roadmap for additional development work or product features
     

The right route

In everything from security processing and baggage operations, from robotic cleaners to AI, digitalization will play an ever-increasing role across every aspect of the airport experience of the future. Digital revenue platforms are central to that future, not only driving stronger airport experiences and deeper relationships with the passenger, they also deliver a powerful, controlled, future-proof path to stronger Non-Aeronautical Revenue. I hope this series of three blogs helps airport managers to see how they can seize that potential by taking Omnevo’s proven route to digital success.
 

Aviation & Travel

True Innovation Comes Outside The Cabin

One of the biggest emerging trends I have seen in the airline sector over the last couple of years is the concept of passenger self-serve onboard or order to seat. Despite the almost constant discussion at every industry event, the funny thing is, this isn’t really new at all – almost 10 years ago, a former CEO of an onboard retail technology provider proclaimed: “Over time the duty free model will shift to 100% passenger self-service transactions. One of the biggest reasons being the fact that the trolley only comes down the aisle once a journey, for half an hour – in essence the duty free store is only open for half an hour. If I can make transactions myself, through self-service technology, the store is open for the entire flight.” And yet, a decade later, this isn’t even close to the reality on-board most aircraft. During the pandemic, with the need for social distancing, coupled with a desire for innovation, self-service again bubbled to the fore – it gained a new level of relevance. With passengers across all demographics accustomed to ordering everything from groceries to new cars via their phones, digital transactions onboard an aircraft look to be a natural extension of what has become an everyday digital experience. The aviation sector is obsessed (but occasionally intimidated) by digital answers, and there is much that can already be done. Making a digital store available for browsing and even purchasing is achievable, both on IFE and passengers own devices. The process raises a number of operational implications, such as how crew learn of and deliver orders, how payments are handled (particularly if there is no air-to-ground connection) and how this sits alongside the existing cabin service. All of these issues require significant thought and, in some cases investment; and there lies the heart of the problem.

Aviation & Travel

Omnevo Turns 2 and Looks to 2023

As we enter 2023 - and with a collective sigh of relief say goodbye to a frustrating 2022 – the global travel industry carries raised hopes for a full recovery and regaining the benchmark performance heights of 2019. I would like to wish you all success in 2023, which I think will be a hugely influential year for the future success of the mobility sector. This week marks the second anniversary of the launch of Omnevo, a company created in the midst of the biggest crisis ever seen in the travel sector. That timing wasn’t unfortunate or accidental; it was deliberate. The crisis radically transformed the industry’s challenges and demanded a new type of response. The unprecedented pressures and shifts in the market inspired Omnevo’s reaction; the development of a unique, end-to-end, digital marketplace solution for airlines, airports, and rail operators. A year later, and despite the frustration of the unevenness of recovery in 2022, we are all thankful that the industry’s situation has advanced well beyond the peak impact of the global crisis - and we’re a year closer to driving the industry back up to its pre-COVID performance benchmarks. Across all transport sectors, we are now seeing forward-thinking operators responding digitally to passengers’ unrelenting demands for stronger experiences and - whether its F&B, Retail, services, or other ancillaries - the passenger wants that experience in the palm of their hands, on their mobiles and laptops, and available at every step of the journey. The 2023 recovery will be dominated by the operators who deliver these passenger needs, seizing the digital advantage. The travel sector’s post-crisis recovery is already well underway and more airlines and airports are positioning their businesses digitally to enhance the passenger experience, raise operational efficiencies (including major sustainability gains), and increase revenue and profitability. These operators are strategically placed to seize major competitive advantages as the recovery accelerates in the coming months. In fact, Omnevo now has ten fully-implemented live customer platforms - including Singapore's KrisShop, Sky Express, Frankfurt Airport, Auckland Airport, and Air Europa – and already a further five major platforms well advanced for implementation in 2023. Travelers are determined to make 2023 the year they forget the COVID era and make up for the lost journeys, the time wasted, and the experiences missed.  When they travel the world again, they will bring with them demands for higher standards of customer experiences and expanded options in services, Food & Beverage, and Retail – and they want these experiences to be digitally powered. At Omnevo, we will continue to support the industry’s leaders by continually innovating and enhancing our platforms, further expanding our team (which grew by 50% in 2022) and developing additional services and options for our clients. In one way, 2023 will be like any other year. From energy prices to regional conflicts, from supply chains to surprise events, the industry will undoubtedly face remarkable pressures. However, the key difference today is that the impact of the COVID crisis is receding rapidly and major opportunities are growing right in front of us, opportunities that can be realized by the airlines, airports, and rail operators who  give the traveler the new standard of experience they demand - and deserve. From myself and the Omnevo team, I hope that the year ahead is a huge success for you and for the whole industry, and I hope I have the opportunity to meet you in 2023.