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Industry outlook

How to connect the dots during travel disruption events

January 13, 2018

Flight changes impact travelers every day, causing airlines, corporate travel managers, travel management companies and their agents to interrupt regular […]

Flight changes impact travelers every day, causing airlines, corporate travel managers, travel management companies and their agents to interrupt regular operations. The costs of responding to these unexpected delays and cancellations quickly add-up. In fact, disruptions cost an estimated $60b dollar annual impact to the travel industry and to corporate productivity.

The causes of travel disruptions are diverse

Large weather systems, natural disasters, civil unrest, labor disputes or even technology failure may have affects which ripple across the entire industry. These disruptions cascade through many touch-points:

  • Business travelers experience frustration, missed flights, and may improvise, adding to trip costs and increasing risks too.
  • Call centers and help desks quickly become overloaded with calls and manual research, resulting in slow traveler re-accommodation.
  • Travel Management Companies, (TMCs) face rising costs, service issues and risk missing service level agreement commitments with corporate customers.
  • Corporations and organizations incur extra travel program costs and suffer productivity loss at enterprise scale.

To respond to disruption, providers rely on each other’s communication feeds and data to connect the dots and re-accommodate each traveler. The flow of information to all affected parties and call centers can be manual and frequent gaps in information often slows down operations. Operations quickly become backlogged, as we have seen, time after time.

Developing new disruption solutions

We have begun to see airlines and TMCs endeavoring to develop unique and innovative solutions to address the vexing disruption puzzle. Linking all of these efforts across the industry, we have consistently found, and stakeholders agree, communication and data are key to relieving disruption issues.   

Recent case studies show improvements have been achieved by identifying which travelers are impacted, by matching passenger trip data with flight status. In one case, these alerts were then fed into the TMC’s proprietary customer platform. The goal is to improve communications between airlines and TMCs, and with travelers. By using Cirium’s wide range of reliable, global sources, matched with the affected trips, new solutions to disruption are waiting to be imagined today:

  • More than 600 global sources of flight status data.
  • Processing over 75 million trips annually.
  • With over 300 data elements for each record: includes scheduled, estimated and actual departure/arrival times, equipment type, delay calculations, terminal, gate, and baggage carousel.

By normalizing structured and unstructured data, aggregating passenger trips, delays and cancellations, along with any applicable waiver data, 24/7, 365 in real time, we are now able to:

  • Trigger messages across the entire spectrum of a trip, regardless of the number of segments.
  • Tailor traveler messages based on context, meaning the right data will be delivered whether it’s the initial flight of a trip, a connecting flight, or the final flight home.
  • Tailor airline/agency messages so that disrupted flights can be surfaced and acted upon.

Unique and powerful solutions using these foundational principles are now being tested and adopted across the industry.

Ultimately, the goal of these innovations is to drive down costs and improve the traveler experience

  • Agents working with contextual alerts and integrated tools average as much as 10% less time per call, with an even greater reduction in agent time spent talking with airlines.
  • Delivering published waiver information to agents, matched to individual trips eliminates manual operations and streamlines the traveler’s experience too.

Companies seek to develop solutions which not only improves service, but also uniquely differentiates their businesses in the market. Recently, we have seen novel updates of existing platforms and new avenues for personalization tested, too.

It is great to see new approaches for disruption management taking hold in the industry. We can’t eliminate disruption, but we can connect the dots.

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