Stakeholder Management and electronic plane tickets

Posted by Peter on Jul 19 2008 | Case Studies

Here’s a case study showing how a large number of stakeholders can be managed with a simple communications exercise, in a project with a clear benefit.e-ticket
Many of you will by now have used an electronic ticket (or ‘e-ticket’) for your plane flights. Those of you who prefer to hold your paper or card tickets are now officially out of luck, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) completed it’s program to switch the airline industry to 100% electronic ticketing at the beginning of June 2008 (delayed from an original target of January 2008).

E-Ticketing allows a customer to book flights through an airline’s Web site or by phone. The customer gets an email or downloadable document with a confirmation number, flight number, date, departure location, and destination location. The customer only needs to bring a passport for identification at the airport check-in counter. The incentives for airlines to adopt e-ticketing were huge. A paper ticket costs around $10 to produce, whereas an e-ticket costs only $1. IATA’s members airlines issue over 400 million tickets each year - a lot of paper!

So printing and mailing costs of airline companies have been significantly reduced, and for travelers there is the benefit that lost or forgotten documents can be easily retrieved.

This is interesting from a project stakeholder management perspective, as the people who travel (all 400 million of them) do not seem to have been consulted about the switch to e-tickets. So all of us are in the ‘Low Influence’ part of the stakeholder classification grid and were informed but not consulted. How did they get away with this? Probably because the benefits are clear, especially as we move towards minimising resources and not cutting down all those trees just to print tickets which are thrown in the bin after use. There are, of course, some airports that won’t let you in the departure area unless you have a ‘ticket’ in your hand that proves you’re a traveler. We then have to print the e-ticket ourselves!

The future

IATA is now working on a similar system to reduce the amount of paperwork accompanying air freight, which is more good news. Some airlines are experimenting with systems to send your e-ticket to your phone as a two-dimensional bar code for scanning at the gate and as a boarding pass.

Physical tickets are also undergoing a revolution, with increasing use of contactless plastic cards. Access to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics is being controlled with a sophisticated smart-card system that even stores a person’s passport data and a photograph, making it impossible to transfer or sell the ticket to someone else.

Lesson learned for project stakeholder management:

  • When the benefits are clear to everyone, a simple communication exercise is all that’s needed to manage a huge number of stakeholders in your project.

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