SYSTEMS ELECTRONIC QUALITY CONTROL
Visibility, access and screen position in Global Distribution Systems (GDS) are key to penetration of the automated airline distribution system. Electronic Quality Control (EQC) is a systematic program using the Proprietary Park Group software that monitors, manages and reports on schedule, fare, availability and functionality displays in Global Distribution Systems (GDS). EQC also incorporates the proactive use of Direct Reference Systems (DRS) within GDS.
EQC is a reactive service which verifies that your schedules, fares, and availability are correctly and aggressively displayed in GDS. EQC reviews all elements of the information found in the systems, compares it with your internal data and initiates corrective action to the extent you have authorized. A monthly "after action" report recapping activities and current GDS status, including suggestions to improve it, is part of the regimen. These quality assurance activities are performed electronically with the aid of Proprietary Park Group software. The EQC service is currently available on SABRE, APOLLO, WORLDSPAN, GALILEO and AMADEUS.
EQC is also proactive, affording a direct, measurable communication channel with the 40,000 travel agents in North America. Airlines, as part of their "participating carrier agreement" with the GDS often purchased information pages in the system's Direct Reference System feature, or DRS. The information pages, once loaded, remain in the system as a passive reference tool for agents who access the DRS electronically to answer commonly asked questions. Carriers are generally familiar with this function of DRS.
Few airlines outside the global players, however, are aware that as part of DRS participation you can place a marketing message (HOT NEWS) in front of every travel agent using that GDS system when he "signs in" each morning - up to a daily entry - depending on your level of participation. Moreover, to test your messages effect, EQC will tell you how many times your DRS was accessed by the travel agents. Informing the travel agencies of your company's newest service enhancement electronically in "near real time" is surely the most cost efficient use of scarce resources.
THE NEED FOR QUALITY CONTROL IN COMPUTER RESERVATIONS SYSTEMS
A carrier having its fares, schedules, availability and "airline specific" marketing information correctly displayed in GDS, can substantially enhance its revenues, reduce its costs and increase market penetration.
WHY IS THE GDS DISPLAY ERROR RATE SO HIGH?
The information making up a carrier's GDS display reaches the systems in complex and vulnerable ways. Internally, people from unrelated departments usually have a hand in its make up, sending inputs to disparate agencies. Often, corporate organizational structure rules out central control by a single individual or section. Much can, and does, go wrong.
Despite the opportunities for error, carriers often still do not empower appropriate individuals or sections with the authority to manage the airline's electronic display. They continue to rely on the vigilance of Reservations/Sales offices, persistent travel agents, or happenstance to catch GDS display discrepancies. The random nature of this type of error detection prevents recurring problems from being identified and resolved, resulting in lost revenue opportunities. A carrier must recognize it is dealing with discrete distribution systems, each approaching the same problem from different algorithmic perspectives and each with its own set of nuances.
The travel agents, under financial pressure to process each booking as efficiently as possible, and familiar with the functionality of the system they use, move through the booking process like electricity - taking the path of least resistance with no respect for your display shortcomings.
THE PERSONNEL AND EQUIPMENT SAVINGS THAT EQC PERFORMANCE GENERATES CAN OFFSET THE COST OF THE SERVICE
In the glow of becoming a "participating carrier" in GDS, many carriers leased CRTs from the GDS vendors that gather dust with no clear mission. These CRTs, with equipment lease and line charges in the range of $6-700 per month, per system, are often buried in the communications budget and get renewed every year without question. As part of the EQC program, The Park Group will verify your schedules, fares, AVS as well as input your DRS and HOT NEWS - obviating the need for these "agent sets".
Communicating with the travel agents regularly via a systematic HOT NEWS regimen, coupled with a lively, relevant DRS affords a double benefit. In addition to the obvious, i.e. better informed agents; the savings an airline can realize by the telephone calls NOT being made to Reservations are just as important. With monthly repetitive telephone inquiries to Reservations in the thousands, it is not unusual to save two to three res agent positions, even in a relatively small carrier, by being displayed properly in DRS.
SHOULDN'T WE DO THIS OURSELVES?
You could, but the personnel, equipment and "learning curve" costs associated with developing an EQC capability are beyond the reach of all but the largest carriers.
The Park Group EQC staff is intimately familiar with the intricacies of the GDSs, their contracts and the algorithms which they use to generate their display. Through daily contact with the GDS vendors over the last six years, we have developed valuable contacts which allow us to get to the right people quickly and get answers to your problems. Each EQC report is supervised by a senior staff member of The Park Group.
Using the proprietary Park Group software, we not only find discrepancies quickly, but it provides the comprehensive data needed to determine if a problem is a unique instance or part of a pattern. Identifying a pattern is the first step to tracing the cause of a problem. Changes in vendor software or procedures often cause recurrent errors at the GDS with consequences that are difficult to detect without the computer quality control output afforded by the sophisticated Park Group product.
WHAT IF WE WANT TO DO THIS OURSELVES LATER ON?
The Park Group can also assist you in implementing your own system by providing training and advice on a consulting basis. We can provide the necessary hardware/software and transition you from our service to doing your own quality control.
WHERE ARE THE SERVICES PERFORMED?
The Park Group's EQC operations office is located in Wayne, New Jersey, just outside New York City.
HOW DOES EQC TIE IN WITH OTHER SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE PARK GROUP?
The Park Group is an international team of transportation specialists offering comprehensive consultation and information services for transportation companies. The firm's product line includes a group of interrelated control and information software applications designed to bring large carrier information and management system sophistication, in a PC environment, to our clients.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DOES THE PARK GROUP MONITOR AS PART OF THE EQC PROGRAM?
- Departure and arrival times
- Equipment type
- Effective and discontinue dates
- Inflight amenities
- Number of stops
- Competitive screen display priority
- All analyzed biweekly
- Flights between your markets over relevant gateways connecting with your own and interline partners services are checked as above, and the screen display priority analyzed biweekly
- Online fares and rules are checked for accuracy biweekly
- Compared monthly with interline competitors based on least expensive fares.
AVS monitored on an ad hoc basis as agreed.