Travelport’s quest to simplify bookings for returning business travelers

Skift grip

Travelport certainly solidifies many of the themes raised in its rebranding. And it’s a good time, as the travel tech giant’s reincarnation may well coincide with the delayed recovery of the business travel sector.

Matthew Parson

Travelport continues to upgrade corporate travel agency customers to its new Travel+ platform, as a senior executive warns of a ‘quagmire of complexity’ awaiting business travelers as the recovery of the industry is accelerating.

Existing customers Fox World Travel and Christopherson Business Travel, a subsidiary of BCD Travel, both based in the United States, are the latest agencies to switch to the new platform unveiled in April last year. They can now benefit from Travelport’s concerted effort to offer a single, expansive source of content, rather than pulling data from multiple places.

In recent weeks, the Atlanta-based technology company has signed so-called new distribution capacity distribution agreements with Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group and Lufthansa Group. It claims to be the first and only global distribution system to offer this type of content from the three major European airline groups.

It announced a multi-year deal with online train and coach ticket provider Trainline on Monday, and also integrated Hilton’s API into Travelport+. APIs, or application programming interfaces, are digital tools that allow a platform to translate the “language” used by the business and can contain inventory, schedules, pricing data, etc.

It’s a welcome development as the travel booking process is about to become more complicated for employees, according to Travelport’s global head of customer strategy and marketing.

“Doing this right means simplifying this (travel booking) process. They can sift through this quagmire of complexity,” Kyle Moore said.

Part of the problem is that airlines will rely on the sale of supplements over the next few years to maximize revenue. These auxiliaries have growth potential, executives said Wednesday during a CarTrawler webinar, where airline bosses revealed business travel was picking up.

“Unbundling helps airlines generate more money (but) makes it harder for the consumer to see which option is best for them,” Moore said. “As you think all of these travel products are getting more complex, do I have seat selection or not, do I have access to the lounge, which complicates the purchase, reservation and service process.”

Now Christopherson Business Travel, which has 1,000 customers in the United States, and Fox World Travel can more easily connect with airlines and other travel providers, via an agent desk, a set of APIs and a data-driven distribution channel. , says Travelport.

Retail revival

Much of the content aggregation is made possible by the new distribution capability, which is an important aspect of Travelport+, Moore said, so airlines can put the product on the shelf. “They put the right tools in there to find the proverbial needle in a haystack product, it really is the right one for the traveler.”

The concept of “shelf” is gaining momentum and the similarities with retail are growing as travel technology catches up with other forms of e-commerce. Saber has developed its “New Airline Storefront” to help travel agencies and corporate travel managers display content from different airlines side-by-side, while ATPCO has perfected the art of online shopping with its so-called new generation showcase.

Moore thinks Hilton’s API is like a hotel version of New Distribution Capability.

“We are introducing a new API to better support products where they go,” he said. “Connecting to Hilton allows us to sell products that may not even be on the shelf yet, but traditional mechanisms for accessing content would make that more difficult. It puts it at the fingertips of travelers and agents alike.

As with European airlines, Moore said he believed Travelport was the only global distribution system to have achieved this. “I know we are the first,” he added.

Meanwhile, other new features in Travelport+ include itinerary enhancements, including Trip Quote for Smartpoint users. This means personalized itinerary quotes and assisted ticketing capabilities. It also launched a new travel manager portal for Travelport+ offering self-service for travelers to “make quick and easy transactions for their trip on the go.”

With all the talk of travel shopping, is Travelport blurring the line between leisure and corporate customers?

“When I talk to customers, whether they’re leisure or business, this retail philosophy matters to both. People tend to think of retail as something that happens in the hobby. It’s just as impactful in business travel,” Moore said. “Perhaps even more important…you have the right set of tools to find the right product.”

turn a corner

We are all philosophers after going through two years of a pandemic. But nothing more than Travelport, it seems, and Moore thinks the launch of Travelport+ and the phasing out of its Apollo and Worldspan platforms means Travelport is a different company.

“Travelport today is not the Travelport of yesteryear,” he said. “It’s culturally different. We move forward with speed and agility. And the whole philosophy of the company reflects this.

So far, the company has transitioned over 80% of its customers to the enhanced Travelport+ platform. To continue philosophizing: what happens after the “plus” transformation is complete?

“For me, that ‘more’ is long-lived because it’s indicative of what we’re still doing, continuing to evolve, continuing to deliver,” Moore said. “It’s always going to be the place that offers the most, and that’s the name of the platform in the long run.”

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