By Nikos Krinis
“Everyone talks about disruption and I think that is the reason we haven’t moved anywhere,” Travelport’s Global Head of Product & Marketing for Air Commerce, Ian Heywood, said during the CAPA Airline Leader Summit 2017 held recently in Dublin, Ireland. Travelport is a leading travel commerce platform focused on providing distribution, technology, payment, mobile and other solutions for the global travel and tourism industry.
During a session titled “Big data and disruption – How will third parties disrupt selling travel? And the future role of Big Data in the airline system,” Heywood gave a presentation through which he explained the benefits for airlines via API (Application Programming Interface) distribution.
“One of the reasons why full service/traditional airlines struggle and compete with the low cost carriers is because the (majority of) low cost carriers have been distributing via API’s from when they started and that has given them a huge advantage in the distribution process,” he said during his presentation “Evolution, not disruption: delivering API distribution”.
According to Heywood, mobile has become the focal point of the end-to-end journey experience and today’s always on travellers have adopted consumer like attitudes and expectations towards receiving a personalised service. Travellers primarily look to mobile technology to “improve the efficiency of their travel experience” which includes check-in and check-out apps, access to airport maps and details on flight connections.
“Providing this level of personalization at the scale that is required can only be done by leveraging technology and airlines need to take steps along an API path to move forward generally,” Heywood said, adding that API distribution provides capabilities that cannot be achieved through ATPCo alone and enables a flexible and dynamic way of doing business via third party connections.
“Transforming data to rich content that can be displayed in a retailing marketplace to provide a full journey rather than just end at the booking and departure stage,” he said.
To do this, airlines need to distribute a combination of ATPCo and API content via aggregators and accessed by travel agents using familiar processes if they are to make significant progress to increase sales via their API. By providing an API connected merchandising platform, airlines can deliver IATA NDC across the full distribution channel and provide content beyond just seat and booking. For travel agencies and travel management companies, this means that when shopping for and booking flights, they have more enhanced travel content and a greater access to ancillary offers.
“This journey may not be instant, it’s going to take a lot of time and will require investment in both API technology and a merchandising platform, but a more collaborative approach is the way forward,” Heywood said.
Moreover, carriers will also need to “reengineer the human process” to get buy in from everyone, but once those steps in progress, airlines can then see how they can get more content into the API path to improve how products and services are shown to consumers.
In conclusion, Heywood said that booking choice is no longer just about the price alone. “The technology is there and the standard is there so it’s just about bringing it all together, by using a combination of existing ATPCo technology and API, airlines can ensure their content is being distributed in a rich and visual way via the various channels.”