S7 Sigma: analysis and accounting of services from global booking systems
The True Engineering team automated the processing of documents from global distribution systems (GDS) for the Russia’s largest private airline S7. The solution guarantees transparency in settlements with international partners. S7 employees are saved from manual labor that took them several days every month — now the process takes place in a couple of hours.
S7 Sigma is an accounting system that provides online processing of air travel transactions. It allows S7 employees not to manage settlements with the ticket selling agents and partner airlines manually. The system automatically processes flight data, generates invoices for interline partners, facilitates creating claims for agents — almost in real-time and with minimal involvement of airline employees.
GDS on the Aviation Market
To sell tickets on international markets, airlines enter into agreements with the Global Distribution System (GDS). The largest such system is Amadeus, there are also Saber, Abacus, and others.
The work of airlines with GDS follows the same principle that we privately use with our cell providers. GDS charges money for making reservations, cancellations, and other transactions with their services. A certain number of such operations are included in the subscription fee; airlines pay extra for exceeding the limit — this is a normal practice.
Monthly service charges amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the excess of the subscription fee takes a big part in this sum. Detailing for the services received comes in the form of BIDT documents (Billing Information Data Tapes). Airlines want to cut their costs and there are two ways to do this:
- Get compensation from agents. To do this, you need to find in the list of transactions with GDS illegal transactions that violate the policy of the airline. For example, agents are not allowed to create test bookings to estimate ticket prices, cancel bookings too close to flight dates, etc. If the agent carries out such actions, the airline has the right to form a claim and demand compensation from him.
- Create a Credit Request to cancel part of an invoice. GDS generates invoices automatically, and transactions that should not actually be paid are included in the list of operations. We will not go into the details of these specific cases — the main thing is that the airline can indicate these transactions, and GDS will agree to reduce the bill.
How the process went before
Previously, when GDS sent an invoice at the end of the billing period, S7 employees had to dive into the BIDT specifications. They manually searched Excel tables for transactions to form claims or credit requests. The claims data was then passed on to the agent department, so that other specialists get compensation from the agents, also manually.
All this required the participation of five S7 specialists and took several days. It is practically impossible to process the entire amount of data to find all the discrepancies to a single one. Therefore, employees had to focus on the most common cases, which are easiest to find in BIDT.
How Sigma automated these operations
Now the True Engineering team has created a special service that automated all stages of the process as much as possible: searching for illegal transactions, creating agency claims, preparing a Credit Request.
This tool is guaranteed to identify all abusive transactions in BIDT — whether they are illegal actions of agents or mistakenly added transactions from GDS. The airline can be sure not to overpay for service. Another important consequence is the ability to track and analyze the dynamics of consumed services. For example, this way one can notice on time that agents are too actively promoting (looking for and booking) unprofitable destinations. In its relationship with GDS, the airline receives absolute transparency of mutual settlements, that can be fixed in an SLA.
The main functions of the service:
• Unification of data from exchange files coming from GDS (six GDS — six different formats and encodings).
• Automatic search for violations based on 10 checks, calculation of penalties based on the GDS rate and S7’s administrative costs, conversion of amounts into the currency used by each specific agent.
• Preparation of claims describing the violation by IATA (International Air Transport Association) standards.
• Formation of a Credit Request according to the format of each GDS, which accepts such claims (four different formats).
The service maintains its own system of directories with types of violations, penalties, which vary depending on the sales channel, region, and other conditions.
The whole process takes place by pressing several buttons — from information processing to filing a claim. S7 employees do not have to spend weeks working with Excel spreadsheets, and the airline itself can direct their free hands to other tasks.
The True Engineering team continues to automate the GDS and agent processes so that airline employees don’t have to click anything at all.
Based on the results of the billing period, the system will automatically look for violations in the lists of operations, it will itself form claims and Credit Requests. Professionals will simply receive notifications that data can be sent to an agent or GDS.