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Strategic airline carriers know that outsourcing certain labor-intensive business processes can help free up resourcesand time to focus on growth. When choosing a partner to manage your passenger operations, cargo/logistics, loyalty/CRM, financial processes, and safety standards, however, you can face an overwhelming array of options.

When choosing a managed services partner, there are 5 essential areas to investigate to ensure that you’re making the best choice for your business: Industry experience, financial security, compliance, solutions and scalability, and reputation.

1. Industry experience: Is the vendor well-versed in your industry?

While managed services can be found from a wide range of providers, you’ll benefit the most from a vendor that has a specialized knowledge of your particular market. Airlines searching for a managed services partner will want to ask about a vendor’s track record in the industry, as well as how and why certain solutions were developed. Is there a specialized team of aviation experts engaged in development and testing? Is there an in-depth understanding of airline-specific terminology? Does their client roster include a wide range of operations, from award-winning carriers to regional airlines? Taking the time to check out their industry cachet can go a long way toward choosing a vendor that will be able to evolve and grow with you.

2. Financial security: How financially secure is the vendor?

The last thing you want is to enter into a service-level agreement and spend valuable time growing a partnership with a vendor that won’t be around five years from now. A financially stable managed services provider is an essential partner for an airline looking for true value and growth. Take a look at their financial history, current holdings, and growth. A bit of due diligence will also give you the confidence to outsource your most essential processes so that you can focus on strategic growth.

3. Compliance: What certifications do they hold?

Are they fully compliant with all pertinent industry regulations? Are they well versed in your industry’s regulations? It’s important that your managed services partner not only comply with its own industry standards, but that they have an intimate knowledge of what’s required of your airline, and that their solutions reflect that understanding.

4. Solutions and scalability: Do their solutions match your needs — both present and future?

In order for your airline to thrive, you need to ensure that your outsourced solutions are truly helping you cut costs and increase efficiency. A full suite of services might include airline reservations systems, internet booking engines, baggage location tools, cargo and logistics solutions, loyalty and CRM systems, revenue accounting services, safety compliance systems, and crisis management tools. Make sure your partner is well-equipped to analyze your existing business processes and provide a comprehensive plan for re-engineering those processes by recommending the right outsourcing solutions for you. You’ll also want to make sure they offer solutions for small and large carriers alike, niche carriers, and more. As your business grows, your managed services partner should be equipped to grow with you by offering more tailored solutions. Understanding upfront what your potential partner offers will help ensure that you are making a choice that will carry your airline through many cycles of growth.

5. Reputation: How well-known are they?

When speaking with those in your industry, does your vendor’s name resonate? Are they mentioned or lauded in industry-specific journals? Are they an established presence within the managed services industry? Make sure your partner has a reputation that matches its offerings.  Nothing speaks more clearly than the experience of a current customer. Looking at customer turnover rates, asking for references, and tapping into your industry’s resources to get a full picture of your potential partner’s reputation is an essential step to choosing a vendor.

Outsourcing your business processes is an important step that can propel your carrier to the next level. It’s not a choice that should be taken lightly, but with some guidance and the checklist above, you’ll be well-equipped to make the right selection.

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