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Travelport is to enable airlines to display images and extra details about onboard services when selling flights through the tech company’s merchandising platform.
The latest enhancements to Travelport’s flight shopping platform were showcased at the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Amsterdam.
The technology firm demonstrated its ‘rich content and branding’ product, which is being piloted with Delta and Air New Zealand.
Travelport said this tool allows the airlines to control how their content is displayed to travel agents, as they upload it to the portal.
“It’s a key step in the sea change of how airlines perceive selling though the intermediary channel, and its ability to support their goals,” said Travelport vice-president Fergal Kelly.
Referring to the current debate with IATA on NDC, Kelly said that there has been a shift away from thinking of direct versus indirect channels, to a focus on revenue growth.
“We're hearing increasingly from airline execs that they want to take advantage of every available channel,” said Kelly.
He added that some airlines did not want to be constrained by universal standards in distributing their content, which is “slightly contradictory when you hear NDC being discussed”.
Kelly said the airlines can upload what they want to the merchandising portal, at various levels of granularity. For example: a fare class traditionally displayed as a single letter (eg: F or J) will be displayed - if required - with pictures of seat and cabin, including seat pitch and size measurements, plus cabin services and amenities. The agent can choose and alter the level of detail displayed.
In a conference debate on airline distribution, Travelport’s head of global supplier strategy Ian Heywood said IATA's development of NDC was "a solution looking for a problem", and that the industry could not "stand around for two or three years waiting for IATA".
Heywood added that advances such as Travelport's API connectivity meant what IATA was seeking “has already happened”.
“It's not just about IATA carriers,” he said. “The whole industry needs to agree standards, including the agency side.”
The company also announced that Singapore-based no-frills airline Tigerair would be its launch partner in Asia for its shopping platform.
The platform, which was launched in April, consolidates results from carriers via the traditional ATPCO channel, with low-cost carriers via an API connection, so travel agents can view and book on a single screen.
Easyjet, Jet2 and Norwegian Air are already featured on the merchandising platform.