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Still able to show the initial homepage of the Seattle-based carrier with its 1950s styled backstage graphic.
Alaska' s first ticket sale on-line that night went to a four-person Olympic Peninsula host familiy, but Guerette no longer knows where they were going. Since its humble beginnings, Alaska has built one of the most popular websites in the aviation world. As well as purchasing fares, travelers in Alaska can now also use AlaskaAir.com to monitor arrival and departure times, choose places, cash in for flight purchases and cash in rewards for repeat travellers.
As Alaska became one of the first airlines to offer ticket sales on-line in December 1995, there was no need to assume that a ten-year later there would be 100 server locations on two coastlines offering 10,000 daily ticket sales via AlaskaAir.com. "Guerette, now head of AlaskaAir.com, said with a smile, "We were high-five when we bought 50 seats in a single workday.
AlaskaAir. com overhauled conventional tour operators last year and became the airline's biggest distribution outlet. Its website sells about $900 million in ticket and package deals, about 37 per cent of the airline's revenue, versus 32 per cent for tour operators. Alaska' s Steve Jarvis, VP of Business and Consumer Life at Alaska, anticipates that the share will increase.
Jarvis said web selling continues to increase by 5 to 6 per cent per year as consumers travel extensively through BlackBerry handsets, cell telephones and laptop computers. Those Alaska travellers who have stayed suspicious when they book on-line will soon have an economical stimulus to use the web. From January 18, Alaska will add an extra $10 per purchase of a tickets bought at a ticketing desk or over the telephone.
This would have been inconceivable 10 years ago, when even the early adoptors of AlaskaAir.com were doubtful that their buying was going to go smoothly. "For the first few weeks, they would buy a tickets on line, and then they would call us to make sure it went through," Jarvis said.
Alaska' s on-line triumph is partly due to being in the right place at the right moment. Financially well-funded on-line tour operators such as Sabre's Travelocity and Microsoft's Expedia, first introduced in 1996, and travellers soon took advantage of the simplicity and comfort of purchasing air ticket on-line. Today, tourism is one of the most dynamic types of e-business.
This will save airlines around 1.2 billion dollars a year. In comparison to most US airlines, Alaska was able to convince a higher share of its customers to buy AlaskaAir. com instead of using aggregate airlines such as Expedia or Travelocity. In 2004, US incumbents such as American, United and Delta made less than 15 per cent of their ticket purchases through their websites, and on-line agencies made a similar contribution to revenue.
On the other hand, Alaska sells 28 per cent of its ticket sales via AlaskaAir.com in 2004 and 10 per cent via on-line agencies. The discrepancy widened last year, with 37 per cent via AlaskaAir.com and 14 per cent via on-line agencies. "There' s no doubt that it is better for [Alaska] to bring it through their own website," said Michael Cannizzaro, information service manager at PhocusWright, a tour operator.
Airlines earn more from a single ticketing if they don't have to split the revenues with an on-line trip page. AlaskaAir. com's continued effort to make its on-line ticketing experience simpler and to expand the possibilities of its website has led him to attribute the company's continued popularity to AlaskaAir.com. In 1996, Alaska began to install electric check-in desks, which allowed e-ticket owners to pass the check-in lanes in airports' terminal buildings.
Alaska in 1999 allowed e-ticket owners to register for AlaskaAir. com flight services. In 2001, the carrier added a Wi-Fi check-in facility. In November, Alaska travellers used the website to redeem 1 billion FFMs, but Guerette and Jarvis want to make it even simpler to earn reward tickets, complete with the ability for Alaska travellers to purchase tickets on affiliated airlines.
AlaskaAir. com will integrate speech recognizers to enable travellers to see a month's fares before they book a trip, and to enable travellers to use web check-in from a mobile phone. "Jarvis said, "We always thought that if we could make this a really great consumer event, the sale would come.