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Travel distribution ‘to transform’ by 2017


Travel distribution is to change dramatically in the next five years driven by mobile and tablet use, a new report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

According to its study, with has been launched with the Atmosphere Research Group, 50% of online direct bookings will be made on mobile devices by 2017 and airlines will become increasingly like retailers. Because of this airlines will be expected to be treated as a purchasing decision not made on just price.

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“As merchants, airlines need systems that can help them not just distribute their flights, but merchandise their products and value across the channels that make sense,” the report reads. “What airlines don’t want are distribution channels that present all airlines as equally substitutable commodities. Airlines want, and expect, their distribution partners to offer passengers helpful contextual information to make well-informed purchase decisions, reducing the number of reservations made based primarily or exclusively on price.”

It expects airlines to become more savvy in their approach to sales with a results-driven focus based on various channels and values. Travel is already the largest online commerce market with travellers thought to visit 22 websites in different sessions before booking a trip.

In addition IATA revised its prediction for airline performance, predicting airlines will return US$6.7m (GBP4.1m), up from the GBP2.5m it had predicted in October. Its prediction has been changed after carriers posted strong figures during the second and third quarters of the year. “It’s a diverging picture. Economies of scale are helping larger airlines to cope much better with the difficult environment than small and medium-sized carriers which continue to struggle,” explained Tony Tyler, chief executive of IATA.

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