I can’t think of a more exciting time to be part of this fantastic industry! It’s no secret that airline distribution is evolving and being part of that evolution is exciting – this is where it’s all happening! In the midst of all the changes facing our industry, however, one thing is clear to me: whatever we do, we need to keep firmly in our sights our most prized stakeholder: the traveller.
Today’s travellers are demanding: they expect the same personalised and seamless experience when shopping for travel as they get when they use any other good online retailer. That means being able to shop where and when they want – across all channels and devices. No blips, no bumps, no service inconsistencies.
This year, 55 of the world’s leading airlines committed to offering travellers that freedom and service delivery through new or renewed content agreements with Amadeus. This trend was also mirrored by LCCs and hybrid airlines. In 2017, 12 new LCCs and Hybrids joined our distribution system, bringing the total number of bookable airlines for this segment up to over 100 and delivering a YTD booking increase of 9%.
Enabling new partnership frameworks
One of the challenges facing our industry is balancing airlines’ omni-channel strategies while avoiding the content fragmentation that can penalise travellers. Through our Private Channel, we created a platform to support innovative business models and new partnership frameworks ensuring travellers can continue to shop as usual while airlines and travel agencies experiment with new ways of working together.
We also evolved our Digital Traffic Acquisition portfolio to expand partnership opportunities and boost conversion between the increasingly important Meta channel and airlines. Our Digital Advertising solutions also continued to gain traction with customers thanks to highly targeted and cost-effective results.
More profitability and control
Merchandising in the indirect channel continues to grow rapidly and 2017 was another record-breaking year. Of the 140 airlines that have signed-up to our merchandising solutions, 115 are already upselling their ancillary services and branded fares through our global travel agency community. With a 31% increase in ancillaries sold in 2017, our adoption programmes are proving they deliver real results for airlines.
And to further enable airlines’ omni-channel merchandising, last year we launched Amadeus Anytime Merchandising in distribution so airlines can create and seamlessly push personalised offers through all channels. With so much more to come, this is just the beginning of dynamic, enriched and contextualised airline offers though Amadeus-connected travel sellers!
At the end of last year, we also gave airlines a real-time view of exactly how their content and offers are being displayed through our intermediated channel, thanks to Amadeus Selling Platform Connect for airlines. So now it’s easy for airlines to ensure brand consistency across all channels.
Future-proofing through innovation
Innovation is in our blood, and once again Amadeus was ranked top investor in travel technology R&D by the European Commission. With our TPF decommissioning and move to 100% open systems complete, 2017 was a landmark year for Amadeus and our community platform. We are proud to be the first and, to date, the only travel technology provider to have accomplished this milestone that paves the way for more innovation, flexibility and agility across the industry through true collaboration.
With IATA NDC now reaching a protocol that can be industrialised, we are more committed than ever to making NDC work across the industry. In addition to our level 3 certification as an IT provider, we also attained Level 1 certification as an aggregator in 2017 and will be Level 3 certified in 2018. But we are also looking beyond industry standards and actively working on a next-generation JSON REST API for content integration.
These are some of my reflections on the progress we have made with, and for, our customers and partners over the last year. The digital transformation journey is well underway – many of the elements are in place and we know where we want to get to. But I truly believe that only by collaborating and working together as an industry will we really be able to deliver on all the opportunities ahead of us.