Some modern European OTAs are really utilising the opportunities afforded by Travelport Rich Content and Branding and achieving upsales of 30-40%, then going back to airlines to negotiate bonuses.
This is according to Travelport’s Derek Sharp, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Air Commerce, and Ian Heywood, Global Head of Product & Marketing, Air Commerce, who spoke with ITTN’s Neil Steedman prior to the opening today of the CAPA Centre for Aviation’s Airline Leader Summit at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.
“Five years ago, here at CAPA, we launched our merchandise content programme with easyJet as our first low cost carrier customer and now we have more than 20 airlines using API, mostly LCCs,” said Derek Sharp. “Then we launched our Rich Content and Branding product, including tailored offerings. One year later we had 100 airlines signed up and now the number is 261, including 70 of the top 100 airlines.
“When IATA announced NDC, some foretold that it would be the death of GDSs, but Travelport has proved them wrong, we have done a lot of work to develop our offering, and a sense of realism has set in. We have changed the way that airlines view us – as one said to me recently: ‘You are a global marketing partner for us’. We are continuing to develop our multi-source content approach whereby airlines can give us data however they want to – and will be announcing something soon.
“Some travel agencies have seized the opportunities presented by Rich Content and Branding, while some others have not as yet. There is more and more uptake of upsales, but it is still a work in progress. One of the many advantages is that the product presents agency staff with different airlines’ offerings in the same onscreen format, so if they are familiar with, say, the Aer Lingus and British Airways offerings, then they can easily see those of other airlines with which they may not be so familiar.
“While, globally, the number of bricks and mortar travel agencies is flat or slightly declining, the number of OTAs is growing dramatically, many of which are now niche OTAs offering a particular product sector.
“As regards Brexit, Travelport is UK-based but a global business. We haven’t seen any immediate impact from Brexit, but more recently have seen some nervousness. As a global business, we tend to see flight earnings go up and down from market to market.
“GDPR is not affecting us greatly because we are a third party to airlines and travel agencies who hold the consumer databases. However, we have been liasing with both sectors to make them aware of what we have been doing to ensure Travelport’s compliance with GDPR.
“We have also seen that the trade associations in various countries have generally been very good on this in helping their members achieve compliance.”