Travel 7th October 2020 - 2 min read

Travel Talk with Tea Takeaways: Hank Benedetti

By Joni Lindes

As the travel industry began the journey to post-covid recovery, we caught up with innovators in the industry over a cup of “virtual tea” to discuss their predictions for the industry and any new innovations their companies are working on.

When one thinks of travel, an airplane is what first comes to mind. This is why, back in May, we were excited to have Hank Benedetti, Managing Director of Strategic Accounts at American Airlines as our first guest. Our Executive Vice President of Customer Success, Maria Chevalier caught up with Hank to discuss American Airlines’ ticket cancellation policies, their charity initiatives and what Hank expects travel will look like in the future.

In this discussion, Hank shared the following:

  • American Airlines’ initiative with Hyatt to provide a 3 night vacation to 4000 healthcare workers.
  • American Airlines refocusing their fleet to temporarily become mainly cargo carriers – flying over 150 cargo flights per week during the height of lockdown.
  • The differing cancellation and refund policies for airlines. Hank described American Airlines’ investment to make sure that any unused funds from tickets during the covid period stay valid until December 31st 2021 and do not require any waiver codes or manual intervention.
  • The emphasis on companies developing a “return to office” and “return to travel” plan and how some multinational companies are seeking to return to travel first.
  • That small businesses were, back in April/May, travelling more than larger businesses so they can reach their revenue targets.

Hank also outlined what kind of data was most important to American Airlines:

“I want to know what travellers are thinking in terms of flying in business. I want to know their comfort level. If you had a population of 1000 travellers that you identified before: I’d love to see a survey of those 1000 travellers. I’d want to know which percentage of those thousand are saying ‘forget it, I’m not travelling until further notice’, which percentage are saying ‘I’ll travel again if the company wants me to.’ And what percentage are saying ‘get me out of the house I will travel again, just let me know,’” said Hank.

“Any data we can get along those lines the better so we can assess demand. Its not just assessing demand but also assessing change in sentiment. When do we get to points where people become more open to travelling? When do those points happen, where are they happening, what companies are they happening with? We are just a big sucking sound of information gathering at this point. Airlines previously had oodles of information on demand and pricing and how it impacted behaviour. That has all been wiped out at the moment.”

Watch Travel Talk with Tea featuring Hank Benedetti

You can listen to Hank’s conversation as well as our other tea time chats on our podcast here.

If you would like to know more about our travel data services, book a demo here.

Joni Lindes
By Joni Lindes
2 min read

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