It’s been quite some time since I wrote the first part of this two part post. The truth is I’ve just found plently of more interesting topics to discuss, and therefore this second part kept getting bumped down the list. Just as I said when I wrote part one, this isn’t going to be a riveting reading for most, in fact it will probably be drier than an AA meeting, and I’m not referring to American Airlines.
To set the scene I’ll repeat one thing I write in the original post.
The core theme for me, and the biggest factor influencing my preference, is that realtime critical applications (ie. the website) should be built with less points of failure. More importantly, the smallest complexity/functionality added to the online booking flow should only be done so if it has the potential to improve the chance of increasing airline revenue (or in some cases, but more often post booking flow, reducing the cost to serve).
I’ll start with the case for doing the TTP/ET entry on the booking confirmation page, ie. during the booking flow. And it is still the booking flow, as even though the air booking is confirmed, in a flights plus model of ancillary revenue, the entire booking is not yet finished.
Online Ticketing – Pros
- e-ticket number seen immediately by passenger (not sure how many passengers even understand this or see it as a benefit)
- Web check-in is available from confirmation page for last minute purchases
Online Ticketing – Cons
- Higher (visible) ticketing failure rate, resulting in more work for back office / call centre
- A ticketing error on the confirmation page leads passenger to think there is a problem with a booking, and duplicate bookings may be made causing extra back office work doing refunds
- A ticketing error on the confirmation page virtually kills any chance of an immediate subsequent sale of a car or hotel segment
- Possible confusion for customer by having both e-ticket number and RLOC number displayed (extremely minor issue, compare to above)
- New tickets can’t be issued whilst sales report is being closed, causing more ticketing failures, especially for high volume sites.
Offline Ticketing – Pros
- Multi retry solution – in the event ticket issuance fails on the first try, the PNR can be requeued and retried at set intervals (very helpful if link down) rather than automatically queued for manual rework.
- In the above case, subsequent error investigation is eased due to a single back office processing path
- Related to point above; true cost of each sale can be more accurately measured if the same platform doing the ticketing is also measuring subsequent PNR touches from buy to fly.
- Pre ticketing checks can be performed such as passenger blacklists and light fraud checking prior to ticket issuance
- Pre ticketing reformatting of the PNR – eg. sometimes the airline may want certain remarks converted to SSRs OSI’s etc, especially when working with the growing list of ancillary services sold during the booking flow
- Booking confirmation page is lighter with less complexity, especially non value adding complexity – and more screen real estate on this page therefore is available for cross selling and upselling
- Probably the strongest reason of all is the extra revenue that would be missed by not implementing what in my opinion is a major plank in the best model for cross selling hotels
Offline Ticketing – Cons
- The two pros for online ticketing appear here as cons. Customer doesn’t immediately see ticket number and also can’t check in from confirmation page. If having the passenger wait a minute or two for the ticket number in the itinerary receipt email they receive is a problem, then this is a big negative.
As you probably gathered, my preference is for offline ticketing, but as I said in my original post on this topic, the question of online versus offline ticketing is hardly one of the biggest questions an airline e-commerce manager will need to answer whilst doing the job. There are plently of bigger fish to fry.