Aeromexico’s reservation and check in platform upgradeBy Ana Maria BarquinDecember 15, 2011Aeroméxico, Mexico’s largest transcontinental airline, is very well aware of the importanceof digital marketing and technologies for its present and future business. They have beenactively engaging through digital channels for two years focused on creating two-wayand long-lasting relationships with their passengers and in improving their travel experiencebefore, during and after their trip.That is why they decided to expand their services and offers with the use of newtechnological developments. On May 22, 2011 Aeromexicomigrated its reservations andairport check in systems to its new Sabre technological platform. The Sabre system wouldimprove Aeroméxico’s customer experience at all points of contact throughout thereservation, ticketing and check in processes. Among other things, the four most importantbenefits that consumers would get out of the platform over time were: 1. Web check-in: passengers would be able to check in online prior to their flights and print their boarding passes in the Aeromexico’sprinting machines in the airportwithout having to get there earlier or stand in line. A baggage drop line would also be in place to assist web check in passengers. 2. Buying tickets everywhere: the new system allowed to expand Aeromexico’s online purchase engine outside their website to mobile, Facebook and any other web applications such asblogs. Passengers couldnow buy tickets in a faster and more convenient way. 3. E-Tickets: users could now use their phone as a boarding pass. Once you check in online, you can choose to get your boarding pass as an e-ticket in your phone and scan it in the airport without having to check in or print anything else. This service has other implications with airports that the airline would have to examine and solve before its implementation. 4. Virtually there: this application would allow passengers to access their itinerary, flight information, get reminders via email or mobile about flight status and other valuable information such as travel guides or weather in their final destination.The new platform would change how check ins and reservations were handle in theorganization, so all employees would have to learn to use the new platform, specially allairport personal. The company did some training sessions and some of the companyemployees were ready (unfortunately, not everyone was prepared). All company staff wasalerted of the launching date, but the users were not informed. The company planned tohave a soft launch, without making big announcements other than a press release twodays earlier. After giving the platform and team time to learn and stabilize, a propermarketing campaign with the new benefits would be launched. Marketing andcommunication teams were ready and customer service teams throughout all contactchannels (in person, call center, social media) were aware of the new platform and werealert for customer inquiries.As May 22 (launching day) arrived so did caos. As with all new technological platforms, noteverything was smooth. The platform went through several problems, it was on and off allthe time, it had saturation issues, and was really inconsistent. On the other hand,employees were not properly trained for the use of the platform, only a few of the airportcheck in staff new how to operate the platform to its full. These two factors together madeit really difficult to check in passengers on time for their flights. Most of Aeromexico’s flights
were delayed and finally cancelled because of the operation failure at the airport, andmost important, no one gave any information about it.Smartphone, tablet and computer use by the passengers at the airport reporting theincident started immediately. The media picked up the story right away and in hours,everyone knew what was going on. All customer service channels were flooded with angrypassengers looking for information about their flights and the word was spreading fast. Allthe digital space was crowded with anger towards the brand and negative commentsstarted to arise. Aeromexico’s social media channels, Facebook with 100,000 fans andTwitter with 42,000 followers were especially busy and they weren’t enough hands toanswer to everyone. These two channels promise a 20 minutes response time, they have agood response rate and customers know they can get fast answers here, so a lot of peoplewere turning to them, but no one in the organization seem to have information on whatwas going on and how it would be solve.Aeromexico’s directors got together immedialty to assess the situation and to put togethera crisis action plan. They clearly weren’t prepared for something like this to happen andwere taking forever to take some action. They knew that the system would take at leastone week to stabilize, that it would take time for the staff to learn the platform and thatthey did not had enough people in the customer service channels to respond to allinquiries. Digital media was a clear solution to both, communicate with passengers in realtime, give statements and information and to revert the image the operation failure wascreating for the brand when the platform was intended to give a better service. But whatshould they do? What would they have to communicate, when, how would they respondto the tons of answers coming their way in social media? How should they manage asituation this big that would affect thousands of people? They also wondered how theycould have been prepared for a crisis like this, what they should have done different.About AeromexicoGrupoAeroméxico, S.A.B. de C.V. is the holding company for a group of subsidiariesengaged in the commercial airline business in Mexico, and the promotion of passengerloyalty programs. Its fleet includes Boeing 777, 767 and 737 aircraft, and next generationEmbraer 145 and 190 jets.GrupoAeroméxico operates its main hub out of Terminal 2 in the Mexico City InternationalAirport. The Group offers 450 daily flights to different cities in Mexico, the United States,Canada, Central and South America, and Europe and Asia. They operate 119 routs and fly11.6 million passengers each year.Aeroméxico is a founding member of SkyTeam, a global airline alliance partnering 13airlines: Aeroflot, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, CSA CzechAirlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, TAROMRomanian Air Transport and Vietnam Airlines. SkyTeam offers all partner airline passengers alarge global network with more destinations and frequencies and improved connectivity.Passengers can earn and redeem miles with the different partners’ loyalty programs andenjoy the 415 airport lounges around the world. SkyTeam offers its 384 million annualpassengers more than 12,500 daily flights covering 898 destinations in 169 countries.