At the CAPA Airline Leader Summit in Dublin, Travel Daily chatted with Paul Broughton, Travelport’s managing director UK & Ireland, and Sinead Reilly, country manager for Travelport Ireland…
Q) In terms of the Travelport Travel Commerce Platform, what has the feedback been like from agents; are you giving them what they want?
(PB) We’ve invested over US$800 million since 2012 in developing products and solutions and moving ourselves from being a traditional GDS to a Travel Commerce Platform. [But] we’re never finished and that’s why we work with third parties, as it enables us to call upon a whole pool of developers who we can work with to deliver diverse solutions to our customers.
Q) And what benefits are you bringing to your agency customers?
(PB) Whether our customers are leisure or corporate, our job as their technology provider is to enable them to become more efficient, to make more money, and to ensure that their people deliver fantastic customer service to their end customer. The way they do that is by being the most informed travel consultant. SmartPoint… helps to drive customer service, loyalty and personalisation.
(SR) And if the consultants are selling the fares that the airlines want them to, that also drives value back to the agencies. Airlines then see the value in the travel agency business, via the power of the platform.
Q) And how is this new selling environment affecting how airlines sell and market their fares?
(PB) Airlines are starting to understand now that they can tailor that content to specific customers. That’s really powerful and it suddenly means that, instead of just negotiating with an airline’s distribution team, now we’re also talking to their sales and marketing teams.
(SR) Who would have thought that Ryanair would have a business seat? But they do, and it’s working. If you analyse the value that the TMCs have brought to the airlines in recent years, it’s a very strong pull and they can’t afford to lose that. The high-yielding fares and business class seats are now being brought to the table.
(PB) The average ticket value sold via the GDS is about four times higher than those sold direct.
Q) Are there any new developments we can expect in the near future?
(PB) We’re already looking for more dynamic ways to search. For example, we can give the option or searching 2-3 days either side of the desired date via the GDS, which is more like the online model and presents more options.
Q) And are you talking the so-called “disruptors”, such as Airbnb and Uber, about GDS distribution?
(PB) We embrace any suppliers who want to approach us and can add value to our agency customers, by enabling us to deliver a wider breadth of content. If, for example, Airbnb wants to do that then we can make it work through the travel commerce platform. Just like we embraced the LCCs when they decided to use us, and more recently Heathrow Express.
With the growth in API connectivity there will be more and more opportunities to bring in relevant travel content which can add value.
(SR) Anyone that brings value to the travel industry brings value to us. You can’t ignore anybody – the industry is always evolving. Everyone is watching and waiting to see what the next big thing is.