In recent years, airlines have increasingly embraced customer-centricity with dynamic and personalized offers.
However, airlines are struggling to transition to the modern retailing landscape, especially with group bookings, due to an overreliance on legacy systems.
Legacy Group Bookings— Airlines’ One-Way Ticket to Revenue Leakage and Poor Customer Experience
Typically, group bookings are made by customers over weeks with Google Forms, lengthy email exchanges with the sales/ revenue management teams, or phone calls to call centers.
With airlines desperate to find new avenues of growth and revenue, legacy group booking methods are casting a cloud over the industry’s future.
Traditional ways of acquiring and servicing group passengers come with the following drawbacks:
- Processing a group request over call or email takes weeks.
- Reliance on distribution channels and travel agents with high commissions leads to lower revenue for the airline despite sky-high ticket prices.
- Airlines cannot personalize offers or provide dynamic quotes
- Customers can’t purchase ancillaries because legacy distribution systems only allow airlines to display airfare and schedules.
- Airlines can’t offer customized terms and conditions based on the customer segment.
- Manual ticketing makes payment collection, PNR updating, name updating, etc., a nightmare.
- Post-ticketing services, such as canceling and modifying tickets, are time-consuming.
How GroupRM helps you navigate these challenges
GroupRM is an AI-powered solution for airlines to manage group bookings seamlessly, offer a differentiated “experience” rather than just selling flight tickets, bring down distribution costs, and increase revenue with dynamic pricing.
GroupRM allows you to identify the customer with their buying habits. Having identified the customer, you can offer a group quote with dynamic pricing instantly based on their purchase history, competitor rates, load factor, pre-set policy, etc.
This reduction in the turnaround time for delivering group quotes is especially valuable, given that 3 out of 4 group customers accept the first quote they receive.
Importantly, you can offer personalized ancillaries to the customer, delivering a “shopping experience” guaranteed to significantly increase their satisfaction with the booking experience.
Automating the offer management process with instant, optimally priced group quotes and ancillaries will save the revenue manager’s time, boost the materialization rates, and ultimately increase the airline’s revenue.
The group customers benefit from an easy-to-use web portal where they can book, modify, or cancel their tickets.
Customers have the luxury of negotiating group fares in the same portal. Once the airline provides them with an acceptable quote, the customers can accept the fare quickly, make payments, get their PNR and tickets issued, and update their names. It is also worth mentioning that the customers can request modifications to the ticket, including upsizing, downsizing, and changes to the itinerary.
Group policy enforcement
Airlines can set up customized markups and commissions for travel agencies and corporate clients, boosting revenue. Airlines can also configure specific cancellation and booking policies for each type of group based on the country or region, the date of departure, etc.
Importantly, after a booking is made, and the group customer or travel agent has made the partial payment, the solution can send payment reminders, reminders to update the passenger’s name and other details, etc. This ensures that the sales or revenue management team doesn’t constantly follow up with the customers for these trivial issues.
Passengers often get quotes from multiple travel agents, so airlines provide different quotes to the same customer via different travel agencies. The group policy enforcement capabilities of GroupRM can play a crucial role in weeding out these duplicate requests coming from travel agencies.
Automating series bookings
Series bookings are group bookings pre-purchased by a travel agent regularly on the same flight. For instance, travel agents can tell the airline they want 20 seats on a flight from London to Madrid every Saturday for the football season. This type of booking is done when the travel agent or tour operator knows there will be predictable demand for a particular period, and they don’t want to make group bookings repeatedly. Tour operators who handle large volumes of pilgrims or travel managers making a reservation for a work conference can also make use of this functionality.
In all these instances, the travel agents can self-book series inventory. Instead of making multiple group bookings, which is a hassle when managing groups with multiple departure spots, the travel agent can raise a single request with all his requirements met. The agent can customize details including the number of seats, origin and destination, and the expected fare, and raise the request. The airline revenue management team can quickly evaluate the request to accept or deny it fully or partially. The airline can even negotiate the rates for the entire booking or various groups with the travel agent.
Based on the relationship with the travel agent, the airline can even offer special prices that incentivize further booking. Through these series bookings, the airline can ensure that the flight is reasonably filled well in advance and that they get substantial money to fund their operations beforehand.
This automation in raising series requests saves everyone involved a lot of time because previously travel agents had to call or email the airline help desk or a call center and make all the bookings manually.
Depending on legacy processes for pricing, offer creation, and group booking processing is a massive drain on your resources, and it is also guaranteed to leave your passengers dissatisfied. The distribution cost is also exorbitant, given how much legacy reservation systems and travel agencies charge.
As an alternative, you can embrace group booking automation, offer, and order management software, GroupRM, which has helped many of our clients get up to a 28% rise in group revenue.
The software helps airlines provide group customers with a personalized, cost-effective, and memorable flying experience. It further empowers airlines to offer their travel agency customers special fares and an effortless series booking experience. Schedule a demo to speak with our experts to see how GroupRM can help your airline.