Addressing non-rev air travel - challenges and opportunitiesNews / Distribution | OnlineBy Viewpoints | November 15, 2013Share This article was originally published on Sometimes, modest solutions are the most effective ones.There’s been some interesting discussion in this space about modernizing distribution in the airline industry.NB: This is a viewpoint by Mike Stacy, chief executive of ID90T.It’s a big topic, one that is generating lots of light and heat in the shadow of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative.Here is a much more modest topic for consideration:What about contemporizing, and making more efficient, the way travel is distributed to airline employees themselves – the area of the business that is known as non-rev travel?It’s a timely question, for several reasons.First, the pool of non-rev travelers and the amount of non-rev air travel consumed each day, is enormous.There are at least two million airline employees traveling worldwide – and this number explodes to 22 million travelers, when you take into account retirees, dependents and others who have access to space available travel.Airline employees consider personal travel on their own airlines, or on other airlines (“interline” travel), to be an important perk of employment.That means an airline’s ability to deliver the travel experience in a satisfactory way, can impact their employees morale and presumably, job performance.It also has a significant impact on the bottom line of the carriers themselves.In 2012, there were millions of ticketed non-rev travel segments. And with payrolls expanding the numbers will increase in 2013.The travel and travel-related spend of these travelers is estimated at more than $10 billion, and involves moving hundreds of thousands of employees each week.Can you imagine the combined costs involved for airlines in ticketing millions of non-rev airline travel segments each year?While the costs may be staggering, the cost of a solution to bring employee travel into the twenty-first century, is not.At ID90T, we offer a specific solution -- but it is based on principles that should guide the industry as a whole: Focus on non-rev travel not as a challenge or a burden, but an opportunity – a chance to provide employees with the same kind of customer-centered service you provide yourself on delivering to consumers.Automate and modernize – many US carriers have automated systems, but they are still absorbing the costs of creating those systems, operating them, and staffing non-rev travel planning. Beyond the US, many carriers are still issuing non-rev travel tickets at airport kiosks! The days of paper tickets are long past for most travelers. Shouldn’t airline employees enjoy the same kinds of distribution channels that make travel better for the general traveling public? And shouldn’t airlines be able to invest their resources where they can directly impact the bottom line – taking care of their customers, the traveling public? Consider third party solutions – airlines outsource food service, baggage handling, aircraft cleaning and countless other functions. Why would they not consider third party solutions for non-rev ticketing and distribution – where today’s technology can offer the easiest, cleanest, and most impactful outcomes?Factor in the rise of mobile – as in most industries, today’s airline employees are conducting travel research, making decisions, and implementing them, via mobile devices. Yet there is no industry non-rev solution that accommodates that preference. It’s time a third-party offered one. For Tnooz readers, it’s important to know that non-rev travel is a relevant and important topic of discussion – and a space that is ripe for change and improvement in the very near future.NB: This is a viewpoint by Mike Stacy, chief executive of ID90T.NB2: Crew badge image via Shutterstock.