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After years spent in the military, Mārtiņš Sīlis started his aviation carrier in 2009 by joining Air Baltic Revenue Management who are responsible for the carrier’s 60 routes spanning Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS. Mārtiņš Sīlis rapidly advanced in his career and currently holds a position of Vice President Revenue Management of Air Baltic. He has a Bachelor`s degree in operations research, and Master of Business Administration.
You joined Air Baltic in 2009, what has had the biggest impact within the world of aviation since that time?
The global financial crisis definitely had a significant impact on the 30 markets of airBaltic in Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia and the CIS. We as an airline had to deal with the consequences in these markets that eventually led a major turnaround of our airline. As part of that turnaround, known as airBaltic ReShape, we achieved net profitability in FY2013, and also Jan-Jun of 2014.
What will be the key movement of progression for airlines who want to increase their ancillary revenue in the future?
In-depth understanding of the total value of each and every customer, a sort of “super-customisation” and precision-adjustment to their individual needs and spending capabilities. I believe an important role will be played not only by big data, but also smart data derived from sources such as coalition loyalty programmes, e.g., our shopper-flyer programme PINS.
In July, Air Baltic became the first airline in the world to introduce Bitcoin for online bookings. Why did the airline feel that the time was right in introducing this method? And what impact is it having?
Introducing the Bitcoin payment option is a part of our innovative approach to service with a central focus on our customer, and we are the first airline in the world to accept this crypto currency. When doing this, we joined Dell and Expedia and other companies.
What challenges do you face as a revenue manager for Air Baltic?
We are not unique in asking the question “How to make more money?” every day and every minute. But, we are unique in coming up with brand new services and products that are “world’s first” and help us both generate better revenues, rank us among the Top Innovators among global airlines, and raise better awareness of airBaltic among our customers flying to and from our 60 destinations in Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and the CIS.
Is it becoming increasingly difficult to predict the behaviour of the digital customer?
Well, on one hand it is more difficult, but on the other hand we have now tools that help us optimise and improve the revenue from our customers, and one of them I already mentioned before – it is our shopper-flyer loyalty programme PINS that is increasingly helpful in providing insights in our customer behaviour and preferences, and I will be happy to share more of this during my panel discussion at the World Low Cost Airlines Conference on the 16th and 17th of September.