Three of the top distribution executives for American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines declared in October that they wanted online booking partners to display their airfares just like they show their branded fares on their own websites.
On Tuesday, TripActions, a corporate travel startup, began to roll out the first commercial version of the concept.
Travelers booking flights on the desktop version of TripActions will start to see more details, branding, and imagery of cabin classes and amenities. domestic and domestic-originating flights. The new booking experience works for domestic and international flights, including international to international itineraries, and for flights on joint venture partners of American, Delta and United, according to the company.
The move shows the fast-rising prominence of TripActions, a Palo Alto-based startup. It was only last November that the company received a $154 million Series C investment round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Once dismissed by some as a gimmick, the company has grown in influence as its customer base has expanded.
On Tuesday, Gianni Cataldo, head of research and development at ATPCO, said the company is aggregating content to provide contextual results based on shoppers fare and itinerary for these airlines.
“Much of this data is readily available, but not standardized or consistent between carriers and markets,” said Cataldo. “Our goal is to align on the correct data and to test what consumers like to find consistent and focused ways to display content that does not favor any single carrier.”
The TripActions effort is the first commercialized trial of ATPCO’s efforts. Anique Drumright, head of product at TripActions, said the company’s first attempt at the new presentation of data offers a “richer display of carrier-specific offerings including branded fares, seat maps, in-flight amenities, and seat photos where available.”
For several months, Delta had withheld its content from TripActions, acknowledged Ariel Cohen, co-founder and CEO of the startup. However, with the new display, Delta resumed providing its content this month because it now looks reasonably close to how it presents its products on its own Delta.com channels.
Rhonda Crawford, vice president of global distribution and digital strategy for Delta, said in a statement that TripActions was “setting a new gold standard for third-party displays.”
TripActions will roll out the new display functionality in phases: first on desktop and then on mobile devices. The company will then add other airlines.
TripActions pulls fare content from third-party global distribution systems, primarily Sabre. It meshes the content with data that ATPCO and RouteHappy, a tech firm it acquired last year, have aggregated and standardized.
Five months ago, Tye Radcliffe, director of distribution for United, Neil Geurin, director of distribution strategy at American Airlines, and Jeff Lobl, managing director of global distribution strategy at Delta Air Lines, previewed the idea of a “next-generation storefront” (NGS) during a rare joint-presentation at an ATPCO conference in Washington, D.C.
Their concept focuses on how fares are displayed for shoppers, unlike the so-called new distribution capability much discussed in the past several years, which has instead focused on how industry players exchange data.
For the next-generation storefront, carriers file data with ATPCO without having to use the NDC (New Distribution Capability) Exchange announced earlier last year — a separate initiative for retailing pioneered by Air Canada and other carriers.