Demands for advance passenger data are changing customer relations in travel as airlines, tour operators and agents fight a ‘turf war’ over who provides the details.
Advance Passenger Information System (Apis) requests have imposed both significant costs and new layers of contact now that customers are required to input data prior to travel.
Dr Kirstie Ball, head of research into the impact of Apis at the Open University Business School, said: “Apis requirements have introduced a compulsory online interaction for customers with an airline or tour operator.
“Agents and tour operators have found the requirement is another threat to their businesses and it has prompted turf wars over the customer relationship.”
Ball told Travel Weekly: “Tour operators and agents who struggle to capitalise on a customer relationship which is transitory and governed by price are trying to work out ways to integrate Apis requirements into customer-relationship management processes.”
Her team reports Apis has increased the frequency of customer contacts, but that these tend to be routine and time consuming. However, tour operators and agents appear to be using Apis as an opportunity to cross sell to customers and to add value – for example, by inputting customers’ details on their behalf.
Dr Ball’s team has previously reported the sector is “struggling to co-ordinate its efforts to meet the demands of Apis”. The Open University team aims to supplement its case-study research with the industry’s help.
Anyone in a customer-facing role, communicating with clients over Apis, building IT systems or in a company regulatory role can help by completing an online questionnaire. All who do will go into a prize draw for a £500 Open University study voucher.