Key Event Analysis of Customer Behaviour Using Clickstream Data in Airline Market


  • Jihao Lin Loughborough University
  • Christopher Holland Loughborough University
  • Nikolaos Argyris
  • Laura Hornbake



airline market, clickstream data, web server, customer lifecycle, exogenous shocks


COVID-19 travel restrictions have significantly affected airline markets. A behavioural analysis is presented of 1 million customers of a major airline company over 3 years, using clickstream data, combined with COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) data. The main results are that pre-pandemic, the variations in traffic volumes were seasonal and there was a consistent ratio of search (76%), buy (5%) and e-service (19%) activities across the year. The start of the pandemic caused a sharp drop in website traffic, which minimised at 1/3 of normal levels and then gradually increased so that post-covid volumes are now 20% higher, which reflects pent-up demand and consumer confidence. At the start of the pandemic, e-service increased sharply and then dropped to below pre-pandemic levels. The proportion of buyers decreased significantly at the start of the pandemic and then returned to just below pre-pandemic levels. The proportion of searchers remained high throughout the pandemic. Comparing post-pandemic with pre-pandemic, the proportion of searchers remains higher, buyers has dropped, and e-service remains the same. These results show the importance of distinguishing between different types of online activity, defined by three broad phases in the customer lifecycle: search, buy and e-service, which can only be achieved by using raw, clickstream data. Typically, web server analytics software employ aggregate data and it is much more difficult to uncover nuanced changes that are apparent at the granular level of individual clickstream data. The contribution of the research is to demonstrate a novel analytical methodology that exploits detailed clickstream data to characterize the dynamic changes in customer behaviour, which gives important insights into how online markets change in response to exogenous shocks by enabling key event analysis. Using the approaches outlined in this paper, airlines and e-commerce companies can anticipate, measure behavioural changes and be pro-active in their strategic responses to significant external events in the competitive environment that are likely to affect customer behaviour.