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Wanted: Standards to support shopping, ancillary services, across channels

Posted on 12 May 2010 at 10:15 am

The industry’s leading travel management companies, online agencies, and global distribution systems (GDSs) today announced their support for plans to implement recently developed, industry-wide technology standards which enable shopping, booking, payment, and reporting of ancillary services.  

These standards will also facilitate the use of new capabilities that are being developed by the GDSs to help agencies manage the complexity of unbundled offerings, while enabling airlines to differentiate through the sale of ancillary services across all distribution channels.  

Use of these common and recently launched technology standards will create the opportunity for airlines and agencies to sell ancillary services seamlessly, and corporations to optimize their business travel programs by better anticipating and tracking their full air spend. 

American Express Business Travel, BCD Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Despegar, Expedia, Egencia, HRG, Opodo, Orbitz, Orbitz for Business, Travelocity, Travelocity Business, Amadeus, Sabre Travel Network and Travelport have agreed to support common technology approaches for the merchandising of airline ancillary services. 

British Airways, Delta Air Lines, LAN and WestJet support the development of this capability as an option for distributing new products and services. Additionally, Air New Zealand has confirmed that it is mobilizing OC and EMD projects.

By combining ATPCO’s (Airline Tariff Publishing Company) category for optional services “OC” fare filing capabilities with soon-to-be-enabled Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMD), airlines will be able to quickly introduce their revenue-building ancillaries to the broadest travel audience through both indirect and direct distribution channels.  

The group of travel industry buyers also endorses the development of common messaging standards for direct API solutions for those airlines that wish to manage the ancillary data directly with a GDS, enabling the easy and efficient shopping, selling, payment and reporting of ancillaries.

Travel agencies are experts at selling airline products to their customers, and they have keen insight into how these groups want to buy airline products.  By using industry technology standards, airlines can quickly deliver the ability to sell ancillary services.  Additional capabilities will emerge throughout the year to enable corporations, agencies and airlines to complete the sale and fulfillment of these products within the GDS, enhancing agency efficiency at the point of sale, and integrating into existing back office systems.  

Over the past year, many airlines have evolved their business model in an effort to generate incremental  revenue by either creating product bundles that differentiate their offerings or by bundling and unbundling various products and services, such as premium seating or baggage fees. Today’s announcement aligns GDSs, online travel agencies and travel management companies around support for  the use of recently developed technology standards to help airlines introduce new unbundled fare structures, and demonstrate what is included in bundled fares, while also providing consumers and business travelers full choice and value in their air travel options. 

Many capabilities enabling the sales of ancillary services already exist within the GDS environments.  Airlines that adopt industry technology standards are expected to plan how to best leverage it this year. The GDSs plan to provide corporations and travel agencies the ability to shop, book and fulfill airline ancillary services to travelers by late 2010.

Tags: Ancillary services , technology standards