Typically held in the heart of London, this year's T2RL PSS 2020 conference took place virtually on 4 - 5 November. At the event, I had the honor of representing Farelogix, now joined with Accelya, on a panel to explore "Developing ONE Order in the New World - What is the current market position"? ONE Order is the industry program led by IATA to transform reservations processes, systems, and data. It aims to deliver better retailing and customer experience by replacing the pre-internet set-up that is still commonplace, with one that takes advantage of technologies available today. The central question posed to our panel was, “Since the adoption of Resolution 797 in 2016, the world has changed. Do we still expect to see the same benefits from ONE Order as we did then?” This article shares my views.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the panel video.
First of all, let's be clear COVID-19 and ONE Order are not mutually exclusive. One is a global health emergency, and the other is a blueprint for airline business transformation. The impact of COVID-19 on ONE Order relates to time, money, and where ONE Order sits on an airline's list of priorities. It does not affect the program's objectives and benefits.
In reality, the current crisis provides unprecedented opportunities for airlines to transform the way they do business. The risks are lower in a dramatically reduced booking environment, as there are no cutover issues. Think of a PSS replacement like changing an engine on an aircraft. We used to try to do it at 60,000 ft. Now the plane is on the ground, it's much easier to do. From talking to many airline leaders, we know that they are looking more seriously at ONE Order and other transformation areas such as Dynamic Offers because of this.
Secondly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand we need to move away from today's outdated processes and data that are inefficient and error-prone, to adopting more effective retailing-based methods.
Example 1: While I was working on the airline side, even in the direct channel, it took almost 12 months to enable the sale of Extra Leg Room seats online. We were already selling them at the airport and in the call center, so there were no operational challenges. The issue was that the underlying systems, processes, and data were simply old and not fit for purpose. This situation continues to hold the airline back from providing the services customers want.
Example 2: The call center wait times we saw during the early days of the COVID pandemic were a sizable headache. We know that the existing PNR and ticket-based processes were a significant cause of this. We must ask how we can enable more self-service. One of the answers is to have a single unified Order record that contains all the information required to make changes fast and efficiently, regardless of channel.
Playing devil's advocate for a moment, airlines can absolutely improve practices with current processes and data. Most are doing so. However, without a transformation such as ONE Order, this approach is ultimately a dead-end. There’s only so much you can do:
- To synchronize booking data between PNRs, Tickets, and Departure Control Systems.
- To quickly launch new ancillary products. (Imagine if it took 12 months to load a new product onto Amazon?!)
- To dynamically create new products and change prices when the product and the price are hardwired together.
Given that the hidden cost of supporting inefficient processes has been laid bare by COVID-19, ONE Order is not a ‘nice to have’, it's now essential for the industry's future as it promises to:
- Speed up time-to-market for new ancillaries (and account for them)
- Reduce/remove costs caused by inefficient and manual processes
- Improve the customer experience
At Accelya, we eat, sleep, and breathe ONE Order and IATA's sister program, NDC. We can support the transition to an eventual end-state Order Management architecture by retaining the old legacy processes and data such as the PNR, TKT, EMD, pricing from ATPCO, at the same time adopting new processes and data on the Order record. As a result, we are already the de facto leader in the ONE Order transition.
In addition to the Farelogix platform, Accelya provides market-leading solutions for managing Airline Revenue Accounting, Payments and Refunds, among others and aims to deploy NDC-messages to these systems, which can then be consumed for simplifying and streamlining these processes. The industry's critical change is going from batch accounting and settlement to near real-time transaction-level accounting and settlement.
Together, we are building a next-generation, end-to-end airline commerce platform, including a full suite of innovative retailing, distribution, and fulfillment solutions. ONE Order and NDC are central pillars in our joint Offer-to-Revenue platform and we are committed to further development towards the ONE Order standard. In fact, we recently went into production with our first ONE Order use case, which we will share more details about in the coming weeks.
IATA’s vision for ONE Order in 2016, to move the industry from legacy systems and processes to an Order Management approach is one we fully share. Do we still expect to see the same benefits from ONE Order as we did then? I would say far more. The challenges the industry is facing, make it ripe for transformation, making these exciting times for the Accelya Group.