Optimal timing of airline promotions under dilution (2019)


Offering promotions has become common practice in the airline industry as a strategy to boost the total revenue. An effective promotion campaign should be adequately priced and timed to attract sufficient extra demand and compensate for the markdown price. Diversion of demand from the regular fare to the markdown price is also a side-effect of offering promotions, which needs to be considered in designing successful campaigns. Demand dilution occurs when customers are attracted to the promotional fare from higher fare families, or from future purchases to the promotional time window. We propose a stochastic dynamic model for the optimal timing of promotions, considering both types of dilution and given fixed prices for the regular and promotional fares. We prove the existence of an optimal policy, and derive structural properties to find the minimum number of unsold seats that justifies the promotion under dilution. We examine the performance of this model on two cases from a Latin American airline and demonstrate considerable savings by applying our proposed optimal policy versus the airline’s current policy.

European Journal of Operational Research