More Acronym Soup: MCO versus EMD

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The ever-expanding soup of acronyms in the travel industry never ceases to amaze. The latest batch for miscellaneous fees goes something like this: MCO, EMD, EMD-A, EMD-S, I-EMD.

Perhaps, it’s a symptom of the technology driven nature of the business; after all we technology geeks love and live by our acronyms, right? I can understand industry insiders using acronym-speak amongst themselves – it brings a sense of camaraderie and even makes people more productive since they can convey more information in less time (this is open to debate).

Yet, when a retailer of travel services such as an airline has to resort to explaining acronyms to its customers, that’s when it gets rather scary. Here’s an example below from American Airlines. How could airlines (and other travel suppliers) and their distribution partners have conspired to make the process so complex? I’ll not hold you to account for eyes glazing over.

From American Airlines Distribution Update – Blog

With the beginning of the New Year, I’d to take a look at an industry term which may be relatively new or unfamiliar to many of you-EMDs. We will examine what an EMD is, how it works, and the benefits that it provides to agencies and corporations.

EMD stands for Electronic Miscellaneous Document. It is an IATA approved standard for the accounting and settlement of optional services. Many of you are familiar with the Miscellaneous Charge Order (MCO). They have been widely used in the industry to collect and account for payments of items not directly associated with a passenger ticket. The EMD goes beyond the MCO in its use and capabilities. First, it is electronic so it eliminates the hassles of having to deliver a paper document to the traveler. Second, the EMD contains a specific standard industry code to identify the specific service for which it has been issued.

An EMD is similar in nature to an electronic ticket. Just as the electronic ticket has replaced the issuance of paper tickets and thus simplified the process, the EMD will replace all paper miscellaneous documents with a single standard document type.

As the industry moves towards the expansion of optional service choices and offerings, the EMD will serve as the standard accounting document to track, settle and report on these services. At last year’s NBTA conference, Michael Premo from ARC appropriately suggested that instead of calling EMDs-Electronic Miscellaneous Documents, a more appropriate name would be Electronic Merchandising Documents. Since the EMD will function as the backbone for merchandising activities by airlines and will help streamline the process for agencies and the customers they service, I wholeheartedly agree.

The benefits of the EMD are many. Airlines will be able to offer and sell optional services to travel agency customers. Agencies will be able to access detailed data on optional service expenditures by type of service and provide reporting of it to their corporate clients. Corporations will be able to account for their optional service spending and more easily keep track of their true costs of travel. They will also be empowered to proactively manage their optional service travel policies at the time of booking.

There are two main types of EMD standards, EMD-A (Associated) and EMD-S (Standalone). An EMD-A is for services which can be associated with a specific flight segment and its electronic ticket coupon. For example a checked baggage fee could be settled on an EMD-A. When the e-ticket coupon is lifted for the traveler’s flight, the EMD-A for the associated service would also be lifted. An EMD-S would be used for services that that aren’t directly related to a flight segment such as a day pass to an airport lounge. The initial ARC and BSP capabilities for EMDs will be for EMD-S which will support all types of optional services. In the future, EMD-functionality will be introduced.

The Open Axis Group has also introduced a virtual EMD image called the I-EMD (Informational) that can be used by agencies and corporations to acquire details on ancillary service transactions at the time of ticketing. The I-EMD is identical in structure to the EMD-S and provides the same data, but is available for use now until full production implementation and settlement of EMDs is available.

More from the source here.