Anxiously, you search on Google for the latest flight update your family member is on, only to receive the search result of “Real-time status for this flight isn’t shown because, historically, it hasn’t always been accurate”. Sound familiar?
During the pandemic, travel has become increasingly stressful for airline passengers, due to the fear of exposure, compounded by airlines canceling flights at the last minute. In this post, we look at how airlines can leverage an omni-channel strategy to keep their passengers informed, in real-time.
Facilitating the connected traveler
Driven by the pandemic, airlines and airports have been striving to provide a touch-less experience for passengers, to minimize virus transmissions and convince governments on their travel safety procedures. Another way to increase confidence is to put the latest flight status information in the hands of the passenger, to minimize waiting times.
Globally, Cirium shares flight status information with airport transfer services, airport signages and all major search engines to ensure that passengers minimize the time spent in queues and other areas, where humans tend to congregate.
Bridging the information gap with key booking channels
Airlines share flight schedules with aggregators like Cirium. They know it’s important to keep passengers updated on their latest flight schedule, to enable revenue opportunities, and, facilitate communication from an omni-channel perspective. But, what about real-time updates to the schedule and the benefits of sharing flight status too?
During the pandemic, we have observed that 40% of flight bookings are being made 72 hours before flight departure. Within an airline, this is commonly the “cutoff period” whereby network planning “hands over” the finalized schedule to the flight operations department. Subsequent changes by flight operations would need to be communicated to both internal and external sources. Naturally, airlines’ efforts are focused on first achieving this information symmetry across departments and to bookings made on the airline’s website.
But, what about bookings made through other channels? Such as through the websites of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and/or Travel Management Companies (TMCs)?
Reconciliation with these passengers who have already booked their travel on these channels is often manual and time-consuming for airline employees, involving coordination with multiple stakeholders. Inevitably, there are human errors, leaving passengers frustrated and misinformed.
Sharing your flight status with Cirium reduces the manual reconciliation efforts by an airline’s staff and further downstream passenger handling and communication costs.
We help to deliver the right information, at the right time, in the right format to enable actionable insights to the world’s leading OTAs and TMCs. For instance, many companies subscribe to Cirium Traveler Services’ Trip Alerts, which pushes notifications to travelers when there are changes in their flights, such as gates, flight departure/arrival times etc.
Read more of one such partnership with Tiket.com here.
Refer more traffic to airline websites
Isn’t it better for passengers to book/refer to the latest information on the airline’s website rather than adding to time and costs of working with OTAs/TMCs?
A common refrain from airlines’ is that the focus should be on driving more direct traffic to their websites to fully capture seat and ancillary revenue from passengers. In fact, low-cost carriers (LCC) have been the first proponents of this strategy, to keep the network simple, costs low and get passengers to book directly with them. However, with increased competition and unique market demands, LCCs have realized that there are limitations to the amount of revenue that can be captured via this strategy and have been gravitating towards a hybridized model.
OTAs/TMCs are an important part of the additional revenue capture. They invest substantially in customer service support, web-search and payment costs, which would have to be otherwise borne by the airline using direct channels.
Complimentary products such as hotels, ground transfer, tours and activities are also offered by OTAs/TMCs which airlines have found difficult to compete with both from a pricing and breadth of product perspective.
Ensuring that the latest flight status of your airline is updated helps improve the consistency and accuracy of your flight information across all channels, and ensures that there are no missed opportunities for your airline.
What about the costs and effort of integrating with Cirium?
The best part of sharing flight status with us is that this partnership is free. There are no IT integration costs involved in sharing flight status with us and we are open to ingesting all data formats and transmission to ease the integration.
In fact, integration could also be as simple as adding our email to the airline’s flight operations system to enable an automated send of aircraft movement messages.