ATPCO expects to see its Routehappy interactive content displays integrated into both GDS's systems — including within airline NDC offers, says Robert Albert, EVP Retailing at ATPCO.

ATPCO’s distribution of more dynamic and visual showcases for airline bookings and ancillary offers will be getting a big push via new retail agreements the company has signed with Amadeus and Sabre.

In terms of complements, Amadeus’s wider reach in Europe and Sabre’s depth and breadth in North America will provide ATPCO with stronger ties to distribution networks for online travel agencies and corporate booking tools.

The retailing arrangement with Amadeus is new, while ATPCO’s pact with Sabre is simply being extended to other areas.

The new alliances come 18 months after ATPCO acquired Routehappy. That purchase gave ATPCO, the airline pricing, content, and data distributor, access to Routehappy’s “rich media” platform – i.e., interactive visuals that can be updated seamlessly and in “real-time.” The “real-time” aspect allows for targeted, personalized shopping offers for airline merchandising, such as seating, baggage check, food service, to name the basics.

Strengthening Distribution

Last month, ATPCO released the global expansion of its year-old Next Generation Storefront (NGS) standard. The launch of NGS at last year’s Elevate reflected the need for its airline owners to ensure that the bookings they offer on Global Distribution Systems like Sabre, Travelport, and as of today, Amadeus among others, will be presented the same way on carriers’ branded websites. In essence, it’s akin to offering a seamless digital storefront in much the same way franchise locations of brick-and-mortar chains make sure that the offerings of a Starbucks in one city doesn’t appear dissimilar to one in a different place.

ATPCO has three core features in its rich content portfolio: Universal Product Attributes (UPAs), Universal Ticket Attribute (UTAs), and Amenities. These features address the main components of any fare that is sold. For example, UPAs bring unique airline products and services to life through photos, graphics, videos, captions and descriptions. UTAs clearly show the fare’s restrictions and benefits, such as boarding priority, how many bags can you check, what's the cancellation policy, seat selection and more.

Both Amadeus and Sabre will be able to include the rich content into offers that are IATA-certified as New Distribution Capabilities (NDC) as well as ones that aren’t.

The offers distributed via Amadeus and Sabre will also go into ATPCO’s NDC Exchange, which seamlessly connects the 25 airlines ATPCO represents to their preferred retail channel partners. About 85 airlines and channels are in various stages of onboarding the NDC Exchange platform.

“The foundation is now set for Amadeus and Sabre to integrate and distribute comprehensive Routehappy Rich Content into their many flight shopping applications,” said Robert Albert, EVP Retailing at ATPCO. (Albert was the founder of Routehappy and was CEO of that company prior to the acquisition). “Both companies have understood the importance of airline retailing for many years.

“We expect to see significant expansion of rich content into the Amadeus Travel Platform and through its NDC-enabled Selling Platform Connect, while Sabre, for several years has already integrated Amenities, UTAs and UPAs into Sabre Red 360, its travel agent desktop.”

Addressing Digital Transformation

Decius Valmorbida, Amadeus’ president of Travel Channels, identified the use of rich media for airline retailing as another step in Amadeus’ strategy to address the travel industry’s broader demands for “digital transformation.”

Along with the new standards for NDC and One Order, the work with ATPCO “are the stepping stones towards a true retailing environment in travel, that we are putting in place together with our customers and industry partners,” Valmorbida said.

For Sabre, the expanded agreement with ATPCO further embodies its own view of how to modernize the airline retailing experience, said Wade Jones, president of Sabre Travel Network. He added, “This long-term agreement will allow us to enhance our leading air shopping solutions with ATPCO’s Routehappy Rich Content today and in the future as the airline industry continues to evolve.”

When asked how quickly the respective implementations of these deals with Amadeus and Sabre will come together, ATPCO’s Albert compared the new connections to laying of “pipes under the world’s oceans.”

“Now it's time for us all to work on flowing the rich content through those pipes and integrated into compelling new displays, like Next Generation Storefront,” Albert said. “This will take months and years to accomplish, but flight shopping will never be the same again.”

Amadeus said it expects to see the first results of this partnership in 2020 with Routehappy rich content available through both Selling Platform Connect and Amadeus APIs.

Meanwhile, Sabre said it has already begun the initial work to integrate Routehappy Amenities into APIs, and will expand to UTAs and UPAs in 2020.