Going forward TripActions hopes direct connections with airlines can give it a leg up on the competition. Encouraging its customers to use the functionality, though, could be tricky.
Upstart travel management company TripActions has launched a direct connection with United Airlines using New Distribution Capability technology, suggesting it is looking to bypass global distribution systems in the future.
The move will allow travelers to view all of the airline’s cabin fares, bundles, and ancillary product offerings like checked baggage and club access, which were only available through the United website or app in the past.
“Because we have this direct connect with the carrier, we can get the same content, descriptions, and amenities that a carrier has on its own website,” said Daniel Finkel, TripActions’ vice president of booking experience and supplier strategy. “We’re able to provide that really robust, rich experience that you’re able to get by going to United.com. As we build more and more of these, we’re able to create that same experience across a multitude of carriers, which does allow for a very transparent shopping experience.”
The company is currently working with other airlines and global distribution systems in order to offer corporations the ability to book more rich content directly through TripActions’ app and website.
This makes TripActions one of the first travel management companies to deliver on the International Air Transport Association’s industry standard for New Distribution Capability, designed to allow agencies to book directly with airlines.
This underscores the fact that TripActions is looking to differentiate itself from competitors like Travelperk, Lola, and Upside by adding more intricate booking options. Global distribution systems are also developing these connections through a variety of programs, hoping to remain in the middle of the transaction between travel management companies and airlines.
Cutting out the global distribution systems as a middleman in this way is advantageous from a user experience perspective and also a financial standpoint. TripActions can avoid handing over a portion of their United commission to global distribution system and online travel agency partners.
Many travel managers, though, aren’t sold on giving travelers more options through New Distribution Capability tech. While it can add more visibility to costs upfront, instead of when a traveler finally files her expense report with that checked bag or upgrade, many travel policies simply don’t allow ancillaries at all, making it something of a moot point and creating work for travel managers to tweak their program to embrace the changes.
Last November the company received $154 million in Series C funding, and since then its customer base has expanded and its profile has grown. This new partnership with United makes it the first corporate travel platform allowing for same-day changes. Previously the feature was only available on the United app.
The company claims that booking with the new interface will take the average user six minutes compared to the industry standard of about one hour.
One has to expect the company’s competitors are on their way to offering the same kind of functionality, but TripActions is the first to reach this particular milestone.
Editor’s note: Skift is a client of TripActions.
Photo credit: TripActions co-founder and CEO Ariel Cohen, left, with co-founder and chief technology officer Ilan Twig. TripActions