Customer E-Service

Customer E-Service Companies offer web-based reservation systems By Lindsay M. Hitch, Assistant Editor April 2001 Flight planning and service arrangements can be quite a hassle as multiple phone calls become necessary. Five...


INDIVIDUAL FEATURES
Although the systems are based on the same premise, each offers users and providers some unique services.
The Flight2Ground program, available for public use in June 2001, will begin operating with a base of 500 Valley Oil-branded FBOs and will have one preferred vendor on each field shortly thereafter. Flight departments will have the option to choose a provider other than the preferred vendor. Rather than receiving electronic notification, those vendors not part of the program will receive facsimile notification. Program use is free to both flight departments and service providers.
Flight2Ground users may run their billing electronically through Multi Service’s online billing system. Customers may also view current fuel prices at participating FBOs and receive volume discounts. And as part of the program, participating FBOs will be classified according to the services they provide.
The Service Procurement System (SPS) from TheAviationHub is based on an international service provider database, including those providers who have not subscribed to the service. Providers have the opportunity to register more complete business information as Level 1 free subscribers, able to receive and respond to service requests. Level 2 paid subscribers have management reporting and schedule display options. Flight operators must be paid subscribers to utilize services across the network. Subscription fees for flight departments and service providers are based upon size of operation and SPS use. TheAviationHub’s beta customers include TAG Aviation, Jet Aviation, and Raytheon Travel Air.
Unlike the other systems, the SPS communications infrastructure operates electronically from the flight department directly to each service provider. That is, rather than contacting the FBO with all service requests, individual requests will also be sent to limousine services, caterers, independent fuelers, etc., as needed. TheAviationHub plans to go live with the SPS in June 2001.
Easy Turn from Mercury Air Group is available for use at its 19 FBO locations. The program is free to users and sends both a facsimile and an electronic notification to the FBO through its POS system. The reservation program uses a :Cue:CAT barcode scanner, available free to customers from both Mercury and Radio Shack. Promotional items for Easy Turn, including a mouse pad, feature a barcode that, when scanned by the :Cue:CAT, takes the customer directly to the reservations web page.
The Signature Flight Support online reservations program will begin with a database of over 500 participating FBOs. The service will be available to flight departments as either guest or registered users and will be secure for credit card transactions. Users will enjoy a Trip Calendar feature, along with the option to send confirmations to flight crews, company executives, aircraft passengers, etc. The Signature program became available to guest users March 19, 2001, and is free to both users and providers.
Flightneeds.com offers standard fuel, FBO, hotel, and car services on an international level. The site is sponsored by a number of industry leaders, including Air BP, Jeppesen, MCI WorldCom, and AIN. The site offers a number of related services including fuel pricing, airport search, weather, aviation news, classified postings, discussion forums, and a "pilot’s toolbox" with distance calculator, unit converter, and currency converter. Flight-needs.com is now available for use and plans to expand its services.

GETTING INVOLVED
Many FBOs and service providers are already included in these programs, and many more will be added. The Flight2Ground program plans to have a preferred vendor on each field, that in many cases will not be a Valley Oil affiliate. TheAviationHub’s service provider database hopes to include all existing FBOs and service providers. Mercury’s Easy Turn program currently covers its 19 FBO locations, but may be extended to non-Mercury FBOs in the future. Signature Flight Support’s program includes unaffiliated FBOs. The Flightneeds.com database also strives to cover all FBOs and service providers.

Online Reservation Programs
As e-commerce becomes more common, five companies are working toward easier flight planning and servicing.

• Valley Oil Co./Multi Service’s Flight2Ground
www.flight2ground.com
• TheAviationHub’s Service Procurement System
www.TheAviationHub.com
• Mercury Air Group’s Easy Turn
www.MercuryAirCenters.com
Reservations
www.MercuryEasyTurn.com
• BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support
www.signatureflight.com
• Flightneeds.com’s Trip Planning
www.flightneeds.com

Interactive Overviews
For the curious or skeptical, three sites allow users to take a peak at their services.

Mercury’s Easy Turn is up and running. Test messages can be sent by writing "this is a test message" in the company name box. By including phone, fax, and e-mail, users will receive confirmation of the test request.
TheAviationHub features a flash presentation of its SPS that explains the system’s services.
Flightneeds.com provides a guided tour of its trip planning and aviation-related services.
*Some programs may require a flash program (Shockwave or other) that can be downloaded free on the web.

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