Travel Agent Appreciation
Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Feb 12, 2018
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Making it simple

ONE Order modernizing the airline reservation ecosystem


[Editor’s note: This is the fourth part of a multi-part series on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) by CTP’s Quebec editor, Mike Dunbar. This week, it’s all about IATA’s ONE Order and how it targets simplification of airline core reservation, ticketing and fulfilment systems.]

Now that IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative is well under way, the association is turning its attention to the unduly complex and outdated paper-based airline order management process.
In a 2017 blog, IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac wrote, “We recently launched a program called ONE Order. Most of it will be invisible to travellers as it involves modernizing back office processes, but, in doing so, one of my technology pet peeves should be resolved.”
He explained, “If you recall the last time you did online check-in, you might remember that you had several options in locating your itinerary, and it can feel like a lottery when you input them in the process.”
“Sometimes they work, but other times you get the dreaded ‘we cannot find your record’ message. That’s because the information about your travel can be stored in several different records, depending on how you bought your ticket.”
And de Juniac promised, “When ONE Order is fully implemented, you will have just one number regardless of how or where you purchased your ticket, so you should always hit the jackpot when you are checking in online!”
In a recent Geneva press briefing entitled “Modernizing the airline reservation ecosystem,” Sebastien Touraine, who heads up the One Order program, pointed out, “NDC is a major step for the industry to modernize the way airlines distribute their products. The next step in this digital transformation is ONE Order which targets simplification of airline core reservation, ticketing and fulfilment systems.”
Touraine explained, “While ONE Order complements NDC, the industry cannot digest both in one go. The mature part is NDC, and we expect full convergence of the two by 2025.”
But he stressed, “It is not a system and it is not mandatory. Technically ONE Order is a data communication exchange standard based on XML (Internet) technology that combines information already existing on PNRs, E-tickets and electronic miscellaneous documents (EMDs) into a single electronic record.”
Touraine told reporters, “The overall case for change was presented to the IATA board of governors in December 2015 to complement the modernization started by NDC.”
And he added, “With the release of the first messaging standard planned for 2018, ONE Order will finish its initial phase of standard development and enter its second phase of industry capability and adoption.”
As far as the airline industry is concerned, Touraine outlined benefits in three areas – costs, revenues and innovation.
He predicted there will be cost savings by eliminating the inefficiencies inherent in handling multiple PNRs, ETKs and EMDs; replacing them via simpler, faster customer servicing with one reference number and by moving to simpler commercial and financial systems.
Increased revenues will be achieved by “enabling interoperability between different airline business models including connectivity between full-service carriers and ticketless low-cost and hybrid model airlines,” Touraine predicted, adding that ONE Order will ensure that new products enabled by NDC can be easily delivered and accounted for.
And he foresaw a “technology refresh” of airline passenger service and revenue accounting systems, opening up the market to new vendors.
An IATA backgrounder noted, “The value ONE Order brings to customers is consolidating their purchase information and eliminating the need to juggle between different reference numbers and documents along their journey.”
“It will greatly simplify the passenger experience, particularly when dealing with changes or disruptions and passengers will be better informed about the delivery status of services
they have ordered, providing a comforting reassurance factor throughout their journey.”
For carriers themselves, the November 2017 document reckoned, “By moving towards a standardized retail architecture, ONE Order will simplify the cooperation of full-service and low-cost carriers in terms of distribution, delivery tracking and accounting.”
And it added, “This is one of the biggest value propositions to the industry next to intermodal transportation options such as taxi or train. New delivery providers, such as taxi, parking or lounge operators would be able to streamline their relationship with airlines in terms of delivery and accounting processes.”
And for the retail community, the backgrounder predicted, “Travel agents will be able to follow an identical process to book flights and products from airlines regardless of the airline’s business model or technology capability. This will expedite the service they provide and will increase productivity.”
According to IATA, “The ONE Order standard has great potential to drive revenues and lower costs. This potential is considerably greater in combination with NDC.”
“The transition to ONE Order will be a large scale transformation project with a comparable timeline. Key aspects are acceptance internally and externally, as well as cooperation with industry partners.”
And the trade body concluded, “This project vision is ambitious and is not going to happen overnight. The industry is on a journey of transformation. NDC and ONE Order will substantially reduce the inefficiencies generated from a paper-based legacy by de-specializing airline constructs and processes and by improving customer service.”