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Exceeding Passenger Expectations Gets Easier with ONE Order

Given the volatile industry dynamics and a hyper-competitive business environment, airlines are leaving no stone unturned to retain and grow customers. This has manifested itself, in recent years, in the keen focus airlines now pay to enhancing traveler experience and offering a seamless, satisfying journey. Harried passengers and ground staff are an all too familiar sight at airports—the multiple booking references and confirmation IDs for all travel related requirements, cabs, hotels, airlines, and so on, create a complex web of information that could confuse even seasoned travelers. In today’s digital economy, the complex legacy systems that airlines have are often an impediment to an enhanced passenger experience.

IATA’s resolution 797 that introduces the concept of ONE Order may just be the answer to easing this pain point of airlines. In 2012, on launching IATA’s NDC program that allows airlines to innovatively market, distribute, and sell their products, it was realized that airlines need to transform their order management system to derive NDC’s full benefits. This led to the introduction of ONE Order standards in 2015—which allow airlines to replace redundant, legacy processes with advanced and efficient ones. The ONE Order program is an attempt to redesign the way airlines take bookings, confirm payment, and fulfill air and non-air products. It aims to simplify the order management process in the airline industry.

According to IATA, the idea behind ONE Order is to facilitate improved customer servicing with simpler interactions between the Offer Responsible Airline (ORA), Participating Offer Airline (POA), passenger(s), and service providers, with a common reference for the passenger. It will ensure faster check in, seamless alterations in bookings, availability of right meals, quick baggage tracking, and even on-time cab pick-up and drop—all this by allowing airport check-in personnel, finance and accounting systems, cab drivers and hotel receptionists to recognize a passenger by a common reference number.

So How Really will ONE Order Impact the Airlines?

The most significant benefit of the ONE Order program is undoubtedly the modernization and consolidation of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) system. Despite the technological advancement in the airline industry, the process of identifying passenger continues to be hampered by cumbersome, separate reservation and payment confirmation records. ONE Order implementation will simplify the process of sharing customer data and booking information with partners and service delivery suppliers, by creating a single customer reference ID. There are five key areas that are expected to benefit from the ONE Order program:

More Efficient Airline Systems: ONE Order will allow airlines to consolidate multiple references including PNR, EMD, and e-ticket number, to generate a common unique Order ID for the passenger. This Unique ID will be shared with all relevant stakeholders—airline, ground handling staff, airline caterer, cab services provider, hotel reservation desk, et. al. It will help airlines to streamline their reservation management and financial processes while allowing faster and better management of operations.

Ensuring Revenue Distribution and Integrity: Since most offers are created in real time, maintaining bilateral agreements (in cases where a passenger’s journey is served by multiple airlines) with details of charges for each segment will not be needed. Based on the current scenario, the supporting airline will generate and quote a ticket price for its respective segment. Hotel and cab services will provide their own fare quote. The ORA, along with a quote for its own segment, will be responsible for collection. ONE Order will ensure transfer of revenue share of each entity upon delivery of service.

Seamless Data Exchange Across Systems: With the ONE Order ID appearing in the systems of all partners, exchange of passenger information will be accurate and faster making it easier to reflect changes across the board. For instance, cancellation of a flight will lead to cancellation of passenger booking in the system and all partners—the flight caterer, cab service provider, and hotel reservation desk will be notified. This will allow available slots with cab services and room inventory at hotels to be utilized appropriately.

Effective Collaboration of LCCs with Network Carriers: Traditionally, all airlines follow a common booking process. This process allows Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) to generate a PNR number that is a proof of booking, payment, and eligibility to fly. However, in case of network carriers, the PNR as well as an e-ticket number are generated. Since revenue reconciliation happens based on e-ticket, LCCs and network carriers are unable to collaborate and offer a complete travel solution to passengers. ONE Order will facilitate collaboration between LCCs and network carriers with the implementation of a common standard process. Airlines will deliver services effectively and passengers will receive an end-to-end solution for their travel requests through a single order ID.

Enhanced Passenger Experience: With ONE Order streamlining all passenger information across partners, services will be delivered as requested due to efficient exchange of information amongst airline crew, caterers, cab services, hotels, and so on. The need for passengers to manage and juggle between multiple reference numbers and documents would be eliminated and the negative emotional extremes that passengers undergo during travel will also be handled better. It will allow travelers to enjoy an enhanced, singular, and simplified experience across their journey lifecycle.

Possible Roadblocks in the Way to Adoption

According to Sebastien Touraine, Head of the ONE Order Program at IATA, the real challenge to implementing ONE Order is the transition from as well as maintaining compatibility with the existing ecosystem. Airlines will most likely set up an Order Management platform on top of their current PSS or will work with their PSS provider to encapsulate the current PNR and e-ticket data into an order meta-record. Both represent a technological challenge for IT providers, but should support this transition.

It is not an overstatement to say that adoption of ONE Order will require an extensive overhauling of airline systems. Currently, IATA is in the process of setting up ONE Order standards and it is expected that airlines would be able to adopt ONE Order after year 2019. Key challenges that are likely to impact its adoption include:

  • Cooperation across stakeholders to adopt, execute, and benefit from ONE Order
  • Process to manage group and multi-passenger booking, cancellation, and itinerary alteration
  • Management of bulk ticket sales to travel agents
  • Mechanism for management of split booking

How the ONE Order Program will Take Off

As multiple partners collaborate to offer an enhanced passenger experience, it invariably leads to increased complexities in servicing customers, especially with multiple IDs for the same passenger. Additionally, accurate disbursement of revenue between partners and exchange of information on alterations in passenger travel plans can also pose a significant hindrance to offering customers an enhanced experience and achieving process excellence.

To ensure successful implementation of the ONE Order program, airlines should focus on starting with a pilot—a specific set of products being fully implemented in ONE Order—to showcase and realize the expected benefits. As ONE Order complements NDC, airlines need to include how their “ultimate” Order management system will work with ONE Order in their NDC roadmap.

There is no better way of achieving passenger loyalty than by fulfilling their dream of a hassle-free journey, and ONE Order is expected to do just that!

To know more about how ONE Order can deliver an exceptional passenger experience and how NIIT Technologies can help in its implementation, click here.

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