For airlines, flight delays and cancellations for non-weather related reasons are a costly ordeal and a logistical nightmare. These disruptions – known in the industry as “irregular operations” (IROP) – ruin travel plans for hundreds of millions of passengers each year in the US. In the first half of 2017, one in three cancelled flights in the US were due to IROP.
For airlines, they are costly and complicated as cancellations require overnight accommodations and re-booking. Finding available hotel rooms for thousands of stranded passengers has always been a laborious, manual and offline process that left desk agents frantically searching for answers. This takes a huge toll on airline profits, employee satisfaction, customer retention and future booking considerations.
On average, an airline’s cost of rebooking all passengers from a cancelled flight in the US, including transportation costs, has been estimated at $250 per passenger, $4,000 per crew.1 For international routes, the cost of re-accommodating passengers on a single flight can reach tens of thousands of dollars.2 That only covers hard costs, not factoring in soft costs such as stressful customer service for desk agents, ruined trips for passengers and brand damage on social media.
Earlier this year, we launched the Airline IROP Management solution and have been trialing the product with airlines in several markets, currently for re-accommodation needs and eventually re-booking as well. The old logistical nightmare of cancelled flights is now solved with automated, personalized re-accommodation options. Passengers are immediately alerted by SMS or email if a flight is cancelled and requires re-accommodation, and they can view available nearby hotel rooms and make their selection using a mobile device or laptop without ever having to approach the airport kiosk. The airline is able to leverage our extensive hotel supplier network (half a million unique properties globally) with discounted rates to offer passengers more hotel choices at better prices, and can integrate hotel options with loyalty program membership and status.
Travel disruptions and cancelled flights will never be fully eliminated, but we see tremendous opportunity to improve the IROP process. By bringing our solution to market, we hope to provide much-needed relief to travelers, flight crews and desk agents, and turn a stressful situation into a more positive opportunity where everyone involved has the best possible outcome.
If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to be re-booked or re-accommodated due to IROP, you’ll soon get the picture here.