EasyJet bookings through the GDSs operated by Travelport have doubled over the course of last year after it launched new merchandising technology with the low-cost carrier.
The new platform was unveiled in April 2013 by the Galileo and Worldspan parent aimed at enabling airlines to sell their product via third parties as they do on their own websites.
Speaking to Travolution at the annual Evolve Travelport conference in Monaco Simon Ferguson, UK and Ireland managing director, said growth of easyJet bookings had exceeded expectations.
He said although much of the growth has come from corporate travellers, on the leisure side partners like new OTA customer On The Beach will benefit from increased efficiency of GDS distribution.
Ferguson said easyJet was seeing higher yields per passenger from customers demanding a bundling of the core airfare and ancillary products all bookable in one place.
The budget carrier is now in the GDS’ top 10 in the UK in terms of booking volumes among bigger scheduled carriers.
“We sat down with the easyJet sales team and really worked hand in hand and identified which customers to target jointly,” he said.
“That type of joint approach is rare for a GDS and an airline to take. Go back 10 years and there was a supposition then that travel booking would get easier and more streamlined and it was conceivable that 70% or 80% of volume would come direct through a supplier’s website.
“Actually what’s happened is travel has become more complex with different types of accommodation and the product mix itself has become more complicated.
“That’s what makes them [low cost airlines] think if we want to be part of the market we need aggregators and third parties to help.”
The move to next generation agent interfaces and away from the old ‘green screens’ has now established itself, Ferguson saying 70% of UK users are now using its latest Smartpoint graphical merchandising platform. That figure is up from just 35% at the beginning of 2013.
“That comes back to helping new breed participants consider the GDS who may not have considered it in the past,” said Ferguson.
The decision of On The Beach to use Travelport as its first ever GDS will help the Manchester-based agent to expand its reach beyond its core European market to more long-haul destinations, said Ferguson.
He said migration had proceeded quickly and the first bookings are due to start being processed in the first week of February.
Ferguson said Travelport, which is the largest GDS provider in the UK market, had signed 30 new customers in total during last year.
Another significant addition in the leisure sector was the domestic operator Superbreak which is looking to increase its portfolio of overseas product.