American Express GBT reveals next-gen airline retailing advancements

American Express GBT

By partnering with airlines, GDSs and Routehappy, GBT remains focused on collaborating to deliver robust, scalable solutions to customers.

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) announced that with the latest release of its proprietary online booking tool, Neo™, it is the first travel management company (TMC) to connect to the global distribution systems (GDSs) for online NDC content*. Neo connects to Amadeus NDC-X and Sabre’s Beyond NDC through GBT’s Supply Management Platform (SMP). Work to integrate with Travelport is ongoing.

Highlights:

• First travel management company to connect to GDSs for online NDC content
• Routehappy product and amenity information now available at point of sale

With this release, GBT has also introduced Routehappy product and amenity information into the Neo point of sale. Users can now see more information about what is included in an air fare. The initial phase includes product information about specific aircraft, such as Wi-Fi availability, food choices and seat pitches. The next phase will include ticket components, such as lounge access and baggage allowance.

By partnering with airlines, GDSs and Routehappy, GBT remains focused on collaborating to deliver robust, scalable solutions to customers. The shared objective is always to provide all airline content in a way that encourages innovation, comparison shopping and customer value. Travel managers and travellers expect TMCs to provide a comprehensive set of airline options in one shopping experience, and to avoid having to seek non-GDS fares through costly third parties or direct airline booking channels.

In August, GBT issued the first live American Airlines’ NDC-enabled bookings using the Amadeus Travel API and it is encouraging to know that other TMCs are now following the same path. GBT has also made test bookings with Sabre and Travelport. As Neo leads the way in delivering scalable solutions, GBT also looks forward to updates from key online booking tool (OBT) partners. Some OBTs are still in pilot mode, but we expect many to scale-up with GBT and GDSs throughout 2020. GBT works with all major OBTs to advance airline retailing, maintain comprehensive and relevant content, and evolve the user experience. To this end, GBT has offered to integrate its SMP to OBT partners to deliver NDC solutions, Routehappy, and other new content related offerings to customers.

John Bukowski, GBT’s director of content distribution, said “Connecting with the GDSs for NDC content and with Routehappy for product and amenity information demonstrates our commitment to continue providing a complete content offering that can be shopped and compared in a transparent environment. As a standard, NDC will only work if it can help us deliver on this promise at scale to provide real value to companies and business travellers. We are focussed on delivering an enhanced user experience while working with customers to ensure they continue to have control of their programs.”

GBT is currently working with American Airlines, United, Delta, Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group (IAG), Qantas and many other airlines on joint airline retailing initiatives. Though collaboration between TMCs, airlines and GDSs with common objectives has already proven to create value for clients, some carriers remain isolated in their approach to retailing, choosing instead to hide content, add cost and remove transparency.

Bukowski added “We applaud those who have embraced collaboration to find airline retailing solutions that help customers optimize their travel programs and costs. However, some carriers have chosen to pursue strategies that fragment the shopping and booking process, adding cost and clouding transparency by removing content from the GDSs. It is our hope that these airlines soon recognise the value we can collectively deliver to customers if we embrace efficient, integrated solutions.”

Bukowski noted that it was important for travel buyers to understand that NDC is only one component of airline retailing and that innovation to deliver a content rich airline shopping experience goes well beyond one technology standard.