The aviation needs new technology, standards and more collaboration in the next five to ten years as it transitions from legacy retailing technology to more modern platforms.
The T2RLEngage conference in London brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss what the shift away from a single platform GDS Passenger Service System (PSS) world.
The panel agreed there needs to be updated standards to underpin the new ways of operating that do not match with old legacy protocols.
Dominic Matthews, general manager EMEA at Flyr, said it supports all channels and is agnostic about how airlines choose to distribute their products.
“We are very much neutral in terms of how an airline should distribute. We believe that’s a choice of commercial strategy of the airline and should be able to be changed if needs be.
“What are the obstacles to transition? We did a workshop with airlines before this session and it was felt that travel sellers would not be an obstacle at all.
“The main challenge was stated to be time line, capacity in the industry to support those transitions and standards.
“There are some highly lucrative use cases like interlining in the corporate world which those these standards need to be fully baked in to support the transition.
“We help airlines connect to whatever distribution they require. We believe there needs to be much more standardised but also much more self-service. We need to accelerate.”
Oana Savu, chief strategy officer at DOHOP, said partnerships and commercial agreements are the starting point for understanding how this transition will take place.
“All this order offer, retailing transformation in order for it to happen interlining and partnerships… are a key component of it.
“So, it’s really trying to understand what’s the starting point. And guess what? It all starts with commercials. It’s not a surprise.
“We have tried to understand when we talk about interlining what are the triggers behind it. It is really about commercials, about regulations, about different airline strategies.”
Savu said DOHOP realised something more flexible, “more a la carte” and agnostic was needed to support different and emerging business models when it came to interlining.
Ian Tunnacliffe, editor in chief of T2RL, said the transition to Order, Offer, Settle, Deliver (OODS) is not just about technology but relationships, contracts, commercials and prices.
“Rather than try to solve the technology issue first, first set the commercial framework. It’s only partly a technology issue,” he said.
“In today’s world most interline itineraries are constructed by GDSs. Do we really think that soon the airlines will be constructing them themselves using.”
Christopher Allison, director product management – offer & order management at Pros, said:
“There is absolutely going to be a hybrid world for a while and not just for sellers but also for the airlines if they do want to be the source of the full air offer.
“Looking at it just from the interline perspective there is some work to do certainly around the scalability aspect.
“It’s one thing to say I’ll receive a request for a certain itinerary or offer based on all the partnerships I have.
“But if I’m receiving the same request from so many channels during the shopping phase there’s going to be a scalability aspect when reaching out to all my partners.
“It’s not as simple as saying we’re going to deploy all these bilateral relationships and the world is going to be wonderful.
“There’s still a big technology hurdle to overcome. It’s not a technology hurdle per se but there’s definitely some smart solutions we’re going to have to look at as an industry.”
Matthews said: “We are going to need a hybrid world for a while. The general consensus is at least five to ten years but it’s where is that tipping point.
“At the moment it’s quite niche use cases, are you brave enough to go first, but there are some airline groups really trailblazing and then there are a lot sitting and waiting.
“There are others who will want to move in the next couple of years, but it’s that tipping point where the majority of my customers want to engage with me on this new platform.”
Savu added: “Are we already in a hybrid world? What do we call a hybrid world? What is the end state? I think it’s going to be an interesting couple of years.
“It’s very important in this hybrid world, however long it’s going to last, that we all work together. If it’s going to last five to ten years, it’s important we continue to create value.
“If we don’t find these use cases where we start unlocking more and more value, it’s going to be painful. The more value we find that will be a great trigger to go to this end state.”