Where is the PRM application “grass the greenest” ? When EU regulation EC 1107 / 2006 came into effect 10 years ago, it effectively created the obligation for airports to guarantee passengers with reduced mobility (« PRM ») an acceptable level of service and care. At the time, no software application existed that had been designed expressly to manage the process of taking PRM passengers efficiently to and from their aircraft.
In the vast majority of cases, PRM operations are subcontracted through a tender by the airport to one or several service providers who are usually appointed for 5 years. In a few cases, it is the airport that runs the PRM process (Vienna, Athens and Frankfurt where the airport and Lufthansa formed a joint a venture for this purpose, are examples of this exception).
Service providers could choose from this set of solutions to manage their PRM operations:
- Use Microsoft Excel or a very basic usually generic application plus the phone
- Adapt an ERP-type application developed for another purpose (ground handling, rostering, etc.) by tailoring it to PRM
- Develop their own in-house application (« make » as opposed to « buy »).
During the last decade, several things have changed:
- The number of PRM passengers grew much faster than the number of airline passengers did (e.g. 40 % in the UK to 2,7 million). At several major airports, PRM numbers doubled or are expected to do so over just 5 years.
- Airports and airlines discovered PRM could seriously disrupt airport operations by virtue of the fact that a plane can’t be cleaned before PRM passengers have been disembarked by authorized PRM personnel. Also, if PRM passengers are delayed getting to the plane, they may well delay it with all the attendant costs and operational knock-on effects this has on the arrival and departure of other planes.
- A few airports began to organize themselves well to deliver efficient PRM services in terms of reliability, service levels and perceived passenger satisfaction.
Airports are now mostly awake to the fact that PRM operations that regularly fail to keep up are more than a mere nuisance – the equivalent of « throwing a spanner in the works » preventing the smooth running of their airport. The recent experience at Edinburgh before Omniserv took over and the airport accepted to spend more money on PRM (+ 55 % increase in the airport tax), is testimony to this awareness.
The above has created pressure for other airports to follow suit. Organizations that defend the rights of PRM passengers and public awareness have evolved to make the issue a test of airport’s commitment to quality.
When an airport has a few thousand PRM passengers a year and few transfer passengers, the situation is workable. When airports with above 10 million passengers a year typically have 100,000 to over a million PRM passengers a year, Excel or a basic application plus a phone obviously don’t suffice.
Today, seasoned PRM service providers now have considerable experience of what it requires to run a PRM show efficiently at a large airport and it is safe to say the sector (airports, airlines and providers) are reaching a level of maturity that is driving high and informed expectations from the PRM airport management solution they choose.
So what do PRM experienced professionals at service providers say they expect from an airport PRM Management solution?
When we talk to them, most experienced PRM managers agree on what they need. This is what they say they need with remarkable consistency:
- To automatically receive all (99%) PRM job orders automatically inside their PRM application: Pal, Cal and all last-minute PRM show-ups that didn’t declare themselves to their airline without any manual entries or changes (no need to look at e-mail inboxes or to call up agents anymore).
- See the complete list of PRM Jobs automatically decided by the application to be done by whom and when based on the optimal allocation of resources accordingly guaranteeing the leanest, most reliable job itineraries. Know the list of orders is automatically updated constantly to take into account changes such as gate changes, passenger no shows, etc.
- Automatically allocate to agents the smartest job itinerary in an easy to understand format every time and earn their trust so that they voluntarily enter each time-stamp milestone on their PDA from the start to the end of their journey.
- Get full time-stamp traceability of every event in practice:
- to settle daily quality airport inquiries with conclusive evidence in a minute
- bill reliably and automatically, immediately
- analyze mistakes to continually improve the overall PRM process (create a virtuous cycle)
- See in a second, 90% of all the information concerning one flight on one screen (no need to go to several screens to get all the information, especially during peak times. Seeing everything at a glance is what makes it possible to take instant informed decisions in a very fast changing environment (weather, gates changes, etc.)
- Ability to create all important reports fast, in minutes instead of one or more hours. Complete reports showing all the necessary information(Billing, SSR Type, Wait Times, Pre-Notification, etc.) giving the airport all it needs and allowing the provider to analyze the situation immediately.
- A very fast system where everything can be done fast and reliably: large detailed up-to-date reports but also constantly refreshed PDAs and instant job list and detail updates
- Simplicity, not complexity: software that everyone understands easily and people spontaneously want to use from agents, dispatchers, managers to airport Passenger Services Managers with obvious benefits such as:
- The system is used (traceability is the result of all information being entered)
- Onboarding is fast when adopting the system, the first time and when new people need to be trained
- The right scope: software that has everything that people really need at their fingertips
- A product that adds obvious value for a good but reasonable price and not an ERP type application that costs a fortune to buy, maintain and evolve.
The impression today is that experienced informed PRM professionals have little difficulty in agreeing on what they want.
It is also seems natural that the software vendor who can satisfy most of their expectations stands to prosper for another simple but powerful reason: the network effect.
PRM software evolves rapidly as its users give their software vendor feedback on what they need and how they need it. With the effective emergence of SaaS solutions, agile customer-centric vendors reinforce their advantage by continually improving their applications without waiting for major releases. That is because SaaS solutions can be continually improved online without users ever needing to install new software versions. The more clients, a trusted SaaS software vendor has, the better its product becomes for users, in a natural positive loop that strengthens user acceptance and product usefulness with every piece of passenger feedback.
Ozion’s creed is that good airport applications can only be made when they are designed closely with customers in order to do one thing very well and simply – and we don’t mean one but many clients. We invite you to compare your own list of hard legitimate expectations from a modern PRM application with Ozion’s solution in detail : we will happily walk you through the comparison using tangible evidence every step of the way : what the application does, how it does it using examples taken from the daily life of current active clients.
Please send us your feedback, comments and ideas and we will voice them in the next issue of the PRM Newsletter.