How does one of the world’s largest airlines create personalized experiences that not only deliver value for customers, but also employees?

During a breakout session at Sitecore DX Minneapolis, Jon Price, Global Sitecore Practice Director at Americaneagle.com, and Rick Bauer, Global Director of Customer Transformation at Sitecore, shared insights from United Airlines’ path to personalization, and how a combination of Sitecore CDP and Personalize is helping the airline transform its operations with highly personalized experiences.

Powering personalized experiences

United Airlines has the most comprehensive route network in North America and is one of the top 5 airlines in the world. United has been a Sitecore customer since 2016 and uses Sitecore technology to power its global intranet, pilot communication platform, and global policy information hub.

Externally, United Airlines uses Sitecore technology to communicate with customers via 2,000 digital signs displayed in airports across the world. But the airline had reached a point where they wanted to go further with personalization and lower their level of effort (LOE) on maintenance.

Calling on Sitecore and implementation partner Americaneagle.com, they set out their vision and shared their challenges and requirements.

Gathering inspiration to fuel innovation

For Sitecore and Americaneagle.com, mapping United Airlines’ business goals was the crucial first step in determining the right technology solution to realize their personalization vision. With composable technologies, there are multiple ways to implement and integrate — a very different approach than all-in-one DXPs or platforms, meaning it’s vital to gather as much information as possible at an early stage.

During a dedicated ‘inspiration day’, representatives from United Airlines, Americaneagle.com, and Sitecore met to discuss the airline’s external and internal personalization goals.

Some of the external (digital signage) goals included enhancing the gate experience for customers and agents, introducing automated personalization, delivering tailored translated content to gates based on flights and demographic information, and 1:1 personalization after deboarding.

Internally, United Airlines wanted to improve employee communication and personalization, deliver more tailored content to individuals by role, department, and location, and lower the level of effort required to stand up personalization and A/B testing scenarios.

Based on this shortlist of external and internal goals, it was possible to create a roadmap and decide the most effective plan of action. To set these plans in motion, representatives reconvened at an ‘innovation lab’ – a hackathon-style event which took place over the course of five days. By taking a highly collaborative approach, they successfully delivered a fully functioning POC.

Creating a plan for composable

With Sitecore CDP and Personalize determined as the right solutions to drive United Airlines’ personalization efforts, United would need to make the move from Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) to a composable stack consisting of Sitecore Experience Manager (XM), Sitecore CDP, and Sitecore Personalize.

There were several important factors to consider from an external and internal perspective before embarking on the move to composable. During the innovation lab session, four pillars were identified which would need to be considered before United Airlines could implement composable architecture:

  • Technical: Products, integration method, time, cost, and performance
  • Content: Where would content be stored? Should it be CMS, Personalize, or hybrid?
  • Personnel: Technical (back-end and front-end), marketing, and content
  • Cost and effort: Operational vs capital, license, dev effort, and content/marketing effort

presentation slide 

Price and Bauer rounded out the presentation by sharing the skillsets required to implement Sitecore CDP and Personalize, hybrid options, and the various ways that companies can make the move from XP to Personalize and CDP.

For example, organizations that move from XP to XM can still leverage personalization rules if they integrate it with a new CDP or Identity Provider. This will reduce technical debt, simplify architecture along the way, and improve performance. Price also underlined the importance of going through POCs or quick ‘learn and adapt’ iterations before moving to a composable architecture.

Benefits of the composable approach

United Airlines has experienced several benefits since switching to a composable approach, including less intense upgrades, lower hosting costs, less data management, less time on maintenance, quicker development life cycles, and the ability to plug and play with other systems.

Looking to take your personalization strategy to the next level? Discover more about how Sitecore’s composable personalization products can help your organization deliver the type of CX that drives engagement and loyalty.

Fiona Hilliard is a Content Marketing Manager at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.