Air Transport World

Homework: is the traditional airline res center on the endangered species list?(airline reservation services)(includes related article on reservation sales function)

Is the traditional airliners center on the endangered species list?

David Neeleman has seen the future of airline reservations and it looks like a living room ... or a den, or any part of the home large enough to accommodate a telephone and a PC. Neeleman is the former president of Utah-based Morris Air, the trend-setting low-cost airline that was acquired by Southwest Airlines in 1994 and subsequently merged into the latter's operations.

While at Morris, he decided to try something different: Allowing some of the res agents to work out of their homes rather than make the trek into a traditional call center facility.

"It's such a demanding job and so thankless, and yet so important to us as an airline ... that anything we could do to have good-quality employees and make sure they were as comfortable as possible could do nothing but help us." he tells ATW.

"We did and experiment and sent some people home, and noticed immediately that their productivity jumped significantly. So then, we hired some more and within six months, we had over 200 people in their homes taking reservations. And what we found ... is not only were they more productive, they were 30% more productive."

Neeleman says Morris Air's home res effort also attracted a dependable, intelligent work force. "Their average age was 35, they had an average of around two years of college education and they really enjoyed their jobs And because we were able to do split shifts it helped US, too."

Today, Neeleman is trying to transform this success into a new company that will offer airlines a pool of trained at-home res agents. He does not envision handling 100% of an airline's reservations. Rather. his company v;ill offer overflow and backup coverage. Neeleman also heads up Open Skies, which markets the former Morris Air reservations system, Open Res. …

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