Kenneth Macleod Travel, based in Milngavie near Glasgow, has become one of the first travel agencies in the UK to take advantage of updated IATA regulations, completely ditching paper airline tickets in one of its locations in favour of e-tickets, the electronic replacement. The Sabre Connected agency applied to IATA in February to change the category of its Milngavie location, which had been operating for five years as a branch, into an electronic ticketing location (ETL).
IATA’s ‘Simplifying the Business’ strategy calls for the withdrawal of all paper tickets from travel agents around the world by the end of 2007. The organisation has updated its regulations governing ticketing locations to encourage agencies down the e-ticketing path.
“Changing the category of an agency location brings with it a number of operational advantages,” said Reet Wiseman, Sabre Travel Network’s vice-president for the UK and Ireland. “Unlike a conventional IATA travel agency location, an ETL does not need to hold stocks of ‘paper’ tickets or carrier identification plates (CIPs). IATA therefore does not require the location to have a safe and there is no need for the travel agent to invest in a ticket printer. Also, many of the office security measures demanded by IATA of conventional travel agents do not apply to ETL agents.”
Using the Internet-based MySabre booking product, Kenneth Macleod Travel is able to issue e-tickets for the 36 airlines that support UK e-ticketing in Sabre, and the resulting data is reported automatically to the UK BSP (Billing and Settlement Plan).
“With nearly 70 percent of all tickets currently issued in the UK being electronic and the various savings and efficiencies available to ETL agents, we thought it was the right move to make for this location,” said Julian Stark, managing director of Kenneth Macleod Travel. “The functionality offered by MySabre, combined with the fact that we no longer need to handle tickets, means the amount of time and money spent on after-sale administration has been greatly reduced. Our travel counsellors are now spending their time selling to customers, rather than drowning in paper and administrative detail.”
MySabre first appeared in British travel agencies late last year and has been responsible for a number of new business wins since. It is a combination of technology from Sabre Holdings and Yahoo! and combines traditional products bookable in the Sabre GDS, such as airlines, car hire, hotels, cruise and rail, with content from the Internet and third-party suppliers. MySabre makes all booking and destination information available in one place. This includes published and private fares, and means agents don’t have to open numerous applications, switching from window to window to make a booking.
“Currently 28 percent of the BSP-UK member airlines allow agents to issue e-tickets,” said Wiseman. “This will rise dramatically as we approach the final part of 2007, IATA’s target date for the end of paper ticketing. We’re focussed on helping our agency customers streamline costs and processes. This, in turn, will help them provide the very best customer service at a time when the struggle for customer loyalty is tougher than ever.” “I believe the demand for ETL licenses is set to grow,” said Alan West, operations manager of BSP-UK. “In coming months more agents will recognise the savings that can be made by becoming an ETL and using the type of functionality offered by MySabre.”