How OTAs Can Benefit from Unused Tickets

Airlines, travel management companies, and OTAs around the globe experienced a dramatic spike in flight cancellations in the first weeks of the pandemic. Though OTAs have not historically tracked unused tickets, there are vast opportunities for them to start doing so and automate the process.
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By Mike King
Director, Strategic Relationships, DataArt
How OTAs Can Benefit from Unused Tickets

Due to the unprecedented number of flight cancellations related to COVID-19, millions of dollars in unused airline ticket credits need to be tracked by airlines, travel management companies, online travel agencies (OTAs), and corporate travel departments.  

Many travel management companies already have tools for tracking unused ticket credits, but are now having to adapt these because of changes in cancellation policies,  such as extending eligibility for rebooking flights, or relaxing name change restrictions for corporations with a significant number of unused tickets. 

OTAs traditionally offered limited self-service capabilities to leisure customers for canceling or modifying tickets and tracking unused tickets, and were overwhelmed by the unexpected surge in COVID-19 related cancellation and change requests. Many OTAs remitted travelers to contact airlines directly, resulting in airline and OTA systems becoming out of synch on ticket status. 

Some OTAs are now rapidly working to add unused ticket tracking and self-service flight modification capabilities to streamline their operational costs. This requires collaboration with their airline and GDS partners to improve access to data using enhanced APIs and workflows. 

Potential areas for automating existing processes include: 

  • Identifying customers that may have an unused ticket 
  • Validating that the ticket is still open and confirming the value of that ticket 
  • Enabling search modifications to provide customers an opportunity to book with a particular airline or GDS 
  • Applying business logic for exchanges with unused tickets 
  • Shopping for and booking an eligible new flight 
  • Reporting on availability and usage of unused tickets  

This creates an opportunity for OTAs to increase customer loyalty by tracking unused ticket credits and promoting opportunities to make the best use of them.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how OTA’s can reduce friction by helping customers track and utilize their COVID-19 related airline ticket credits. Contact an expert in Travel & Hospitality via Travel Media Hub.

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