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A tie-up between Farelogix and travel website and loyalty firm Switchfly has been agreed bringing smaller airlines up to speed with their ecommerce offering.
Farelogix, whose data standard has formed the basis of Iata’s New Distribution Capability, says the deal allows it to offer digital expertise to clients without having to acquire or develop in-house expertise.
Jim Davidson, chief executive of Farelogix, said the two firms had been meeting for the last six to eight months and each time the collaboration “got more and more exciting.”
“Most airlines right now are in the process of either doing merchandising, or retailing or personalisation. They start on their website simply because that’s the safer bet.
“What we have found pretty quickly after talking to a lot of airlines, particularly tier two ones, are going to have to make either minor or significant modifications to their website to manage this new world. It’s going to take some work on their websites for tier two.
“Most airlines are ready to do something, but there is this throwing up of arms because they have to go in there and reintegrate their website.”
Davidson said existing technology partners do not necessarily have the flexibility or competency airline’s need today to integrate the sort of merchandising and retail strategies the sector is gradually embracing in an NDC world in which airlines need to do more than simply deal with fares and scheduling.
“Now they [airlines] are having to set up comparisons between fare families and then go to another place to choose ancillaries post booking, moving on to full end-to-end personalised shopping and booking.
“What we have found is there is not a lot of experience outside of retail advertising agencies that understand this.”
Davidson said the combined offering with Switchfly will provide mid-tier airlines with an affordable solution that will speed up their adoption of NDC-standard strategies using its XML API data interfaces.
The combined Farelogix /Switchfly offering will provide airlines with a series of components they can choose from. For example, Davidson said an airline can “surgically” integrate a series of ancillary sales pages into their existing website after the booking confirmation stage.
And because of the cloud-based Service as a Software, there is no requirement on the airline to invest on expensive IT infrastructure or data centre computing power.
“The power of personalisation is driving the need for faster and more flexible approaches to e-commerce and user experience across channels,” added Davidson.
“There is still a need for highly flexible web and mobile user interfaces that can support rapid new product introduction or changes to an existing ancillary offering.”
“There are lots of consumers who want to buy products and services from airlines and we are making it hard for them with the existing processes out there. Do not make it hard for your customers to give you money.”
He added: “If the airline conceives of a new bundle or package today, it should be available as a live offer tomorrow – without hard coding or lengthy delays by the airline website provider.
“This is the gap we are closing by collaborating with Switchfly and by extending the flexibility of merchandising and NDC technologies to the website/booking engine user interface.”
Daniel Farrar, chief executive of Switchfly, said the firm’s technology offers a more rapid payback for airlines looking to grow revenue profitably. “They [airlines] can reduce time to market with virtually no IT resources while decreasing risk,” he said.
“Airlines need to ensure seamless day-to-day technology operations globally with an exceptional user experience via any device and channel, in any currency, language and payment method.”