OAG launches disruption tracker
(Published in TTG 30.05.12)
Flight data supplier OAG is launching MiGo, a disruption management tool for the travel trade. Product director Emma Swinnerton tells Matthew Parsons how it could help agents
There must be few agents who aren’t still smarting, more than two years on, from the eruption of Eyjafjoll. The Icelandic volcano erupted on Wednesday April 14, 2010, with UK airspace shutdown the next day. Friday saw 17,000 out of 22,000 European flights cancelled. UK airports reopened four days later, on Tuesday, but by then the damage had been done and travel agents began battling the backlog.
Apart from mother nature and a few cruise lines lending a helping hand, little could be done quickly enough to prevent most affected travellers embarking on epic, and expensive, journeys to get home, or waiting it out.
But now aviation data company OAG believes that, should a similar disruption strike again, it has created the solution.
OAG, a UBM Aviation brand and sister company to TTG, is launching MiGo, a new web-based tool that allows travel agencies to instantly identify alternative travel options for customers stuck abroad. It is designed to be used in the event of disruption, such as ash clouds, snow, strikes, terrorist incidents or even sports events. But it also has a role in day-to-day operations where traffic problems, late-running meetings or changes to plans can result in missed flights. MiGo has two main elements: reporting and rerouting.
The homepage highlights any airport disruption using a traffic light system (see below), superimposed upon a map. Pop-up boxes can be clicked on to display further information on individual flights.
For Emma Swinnerton, product director, “it’s really all about the data”, as when disruption hits, flights are cancelled, airports may be closed, and aircraft are in the wrong place to operate published schedules.
Having worked both behind a computer screen and in front, as a consultant for airline IT company Sita and as a general manager at British Airways,Swinnerton is well placed to appreciate what’s needed when things go wrong.
“The frustration is there’s no central source of data,” she says. “But OAG is unique in offering up-to-the-minute flight schedule information, while some GDSs may only update this two or three times per week,” she says.
“Where it gets clever is the rerouting capabilities, as we’re giving you live data. A GDS, for example, could book you onto a flight that had been cancelled. But we can build connections in real-time,” Swinnerton adds.
Another advantage of MiGo, she claims, is the flexibility of the rerouting, as OAG is “airline neutral”, offering multiple combinations of carrier, airport and alliance options. Data feeds also cover land and sea travel – whatever it takes to get the passenger to their destination.
MiGo also bypasses circuity – restrictions that prevent most agencies from booking flights that, in a non-emergency situation, would seem unnecessarily complex and too long. “We have the raw data, and can offer creative options,” says Swinnerton (pictured).
“It’s ideal for business travellers, or any high-value travellers, who maybe fly six or seven times per year,” suggests Swinnerton. “The agent can use this to improve their customer service. It can be a bit of a scrum to get those last few remaining seats, so MiGo enables them to develop a better relationship when things go wrong.”
Prices are set to vary for MiGo, Swinnerton adds, as it is a “bespoke” tool. Every company likes to tailor how they communicate with customers, she says. Booking functionality can also be integrated. For example, as well as offering rerouting options to plan a new journey for that stranded customer, a bookable rerouting option could be developed for that agency – and not all agencies use the same system. Any licence would depend on the number of users too, Swinnerton adds.
With travel chaos looming ahead with the Olympics, there could be great scope for cementing some long-lasting friendships – MiGo could be just the tool to ensure any stranded customers are first off the starting blocks.
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|A unique part of MiGo is the homepage map, as it displays real-time flight status data, powered by OAG. A traffic light system can alert agents to any congested airports, for example, an airport flashing red would indicate a serious problem. A dedicated team of five people monitors social media, news channels and other media to put the context behind the data. They would also flag up advanced warnings, such as planned airport strikes, on the map.|
To find out how your business could use MiGo contact Antony Barrett, solution sales manager at UBM Aviation, on 01582 695282, email@example.com or visit oagaviation.com/migo