Gulf Air: Reshopping Automation and Technology for The Post COVID "New Norm"
When in March 2020, the COVID-19 virus started spreading to the rest of the world, life as we know it came to an abrupt halt. International travel stopped, local social life and communication were forcibly minimized, and people were locked in their homes indefinitely.
The aviation and tourism industries have faced their most difficult times ever since then. In spite of the pursuant drastic reduction of flight capacities, airlines continue to offer fully flexible deals and yet cannot attain profitable load factors. The formula is lacking. People are still scared to travel, and perhaps mainstream media is the major culprit here.
Gulf Air, Bahrain's national carrier, took these overwhelming changes in stride and sought to act strategically and conservatively.
As early as the beginning of March, ANIXE, in cooperation with PROS, began conceptual work on the scope of improvements Gulf Air would receive, despite the state of emergency. The intention was to ramp up the investment and cut losses by leaving no money on the table. ANIXE’s Resfinity Air booking engine, in combination with PROS Repricer solution, would guarantee Gulf Air is optimally positioned for grade A crisis management.
Real-time contingent changes are now possible, enabling Gulf Air to shift capacities to non-COVID destinations on the fly, re-allocate aircraft and change cabin class seating ratios. Layover length restrictions are also possible, reflecting rules imposed periodically by some countries. All this works towards regulatory compliance and operational efficiency.
Additionally, a new re-pricing module for automated individual ticket reservation changes has been designed and implemented on www.gulfair.com. With the new solution designed by ANIXE and powered by PROS, Gulf Air’s customers can quickly and easily self-manage their travel plans if something happens to change without prior notice. The re-pricing module employs an easy-to-use GUI within the existing ‘Manage My Booking’ customer-facing feature. This allows passengers to change or cancel their itineraries from any internet-enabled device.
Under the new feature in ‘Manage My Booking’ customers have the option to change their flight - allowing them to find completely new connections, change dates and upgrade cabin class. In the background, PROS Repricer automatically calculates the price of a modified ticket based on PROS’ historical tariffs database and powers a variety of alternative flight options. Subsequently, automated ticket reissuance within the system is performed. Following Gulf Air’s business rules and regulations, such a change may be made no later than 25 hours before the original departure time of the flight. Any additional charges depend primarily on the conditions of the ticket(s) originally purchased by a customer, eligibility of which is automatically processed using historical fares data. ANIXE has equipped the module with specialized systems to ensure continuity of transaction processing in the event of instability with the end-customer’s internet connection.
Previously, such changes were only possible via call centres or travel agency partners. It is needless to say that today all travel companies are looking to eradicate human resource-intensive processes. Automation is key to survival in the coming years.
The repricing automation significantly speeds up the process of changing tickets and substantially increases the comfort and accuracy of making a choice. In addition, with the new booking module, the customer can clearly and transparently view and search for new connections and browse through alternative flight options.
Today, Gulf has a much better overview of its users due to smart automation and extensive business intelligence.