November 26, 2018
It’s one of those evergreen pieces of news, particularly around peak travel season and major holidays...hundreds, thousands, of flights cancelled...airports in chaos...travellers are angry...and, whether it is their fault or not, airlines’ image and bottom line take a hit.
Whether the weather, industrial action or operational issues are to blame, the fact is that disruption has become part and parcel of today’s air travel experience.
In today’s bustling skies and airports one tiny incident may suffice to unleash a domino effect of epic proportions. And things may get worse before they get better, as warned recently by top airline industry executives.
The good news is that if airlines can often do little to prevent disruption from happening, at least now they have tools with which to mitigate its effects.
Efficiency and agility are here at a premium.
What’s the most efficient way to notify thousands of upset customers at once, in their own language and through their preferred contact method?
Better still...how best to give advance warning of any expected disruption before they even head to the airport?
A Disruption Manager should be in the toolbox of every airline that takes customer service seriously: a tool that lets you communicate directly with all the affected passengers in real time and allow them to take proper action (for example, by rebooking on alternative flights or requesting compensation).
Although highly technological in nature, it must be manageable by non-tech staff at operations and customer service teams, the ones that will be in the front line whenever an incident happens.
It should also differentiate between planned disruptions (for which there is often plenty of time in advance to prepare) from same-day, unplanned disruptions.
The financial implications are also quite different in each case, a non-too-trivial aspect if you take into account that one of the main goals of a Disruption Management Tool is to take the strain out of costly call centers and help-desk resources.
The Disruption Management tool we have at Newshore (newshore_disruption, whose latest version has just entered service with Viva Air), for example, has been designed to be flexible (there are modules to handle each type of disruption) and fully automated (although manual management should be also be possible in order to troubleshoot when needed).
It must integrate with your PSS, Internet Booking Engine and, potentially with other pieces of software, such as FLIFO systems used at airports.
You basically devise a number of scenarios and the most appropriate response to each. The message you send to your passengers is fully customizable, including language, communication channel and options to offer (re-accom, refund, etc).
Regarding this last point, email and sms are still king and queen, but new channels such as instant messaging are gaining favour in the industry, the likes of Facebook Messenger, Telegram or WeChat.
Ideally, the messages you send would like to include a Call to Action, that allows passengers to rebook or enter a claim, thus, cutting some slack for your help-desk operators.
But it can also facilitate things for your service personnel on the ground at the airport. These are the people that often find themselves facing a few hundred enraged passengers demanding solutions. By being able to cross check the flight manifesto and the disruption manager records ground staff are then able to assess what type of assistance does every passenger need, if any.
At Newshore we wanted to take the Disruption Manager one (or two!) steps further.
It’s great to have the ability to act on accumulative disruption. Let’s say, a flight is suffering from repeated delays, with our disruption manager you can keep passengers waiting at the airport informed in real time and give them instructions about how to get complimentary refreshments, way more efficient than having your airport staff trying to handle all passengers at the same time!
Another particularly useful feature that will surely come in handy at a time when even low cost airlines have started to offer flight connections, either on their own or through partnerships with full service carriers.
Newshore’s disruption manager is able to identify missed connections (for example, due to delays) and lets affected passengers handle the situation efficiently on their mobile devices.
Newshore is a technology consultancy firm serving the airline industry. With a team of over 100 IT professionals, headquarters in Barcelona (Spain) and production centers in Colombia and the Philippines. Newshore delivers e-commerce solutions to low cost carriers (LCC) and hybrid airlines all over the world, boosting their revenues while keeping their operational costs low.