Barcelona-based travel management company TravelPerk is now offering all customers direct booking with Lufthansa Group Airlines through new distribution capability technology, hinting at a larger shift within the travel booking industry.

The connection, which follows the International Air Transport Association’s industry standard for New Distribution Capability (NDC), gives travelers more options when flying with Lufthansa, including access to cheaper tickets, personalized package deals, as well as in-flight details like Wi-Fi, seat selection, and meals, the company said in a press release Tuesday. Previously, these items were only available to TravelPerk customers through the airline’s website.

The startup has already been providing this service to select customers for six months, but has now expanded it to all of its customers. Over the course of the six months, those customers have saved up to 37 percent on travel booking, the company said.

“We’ve been leveraging the advancements of NDC over the last six months, working with providers like Lufthansa to provide a level of clarity travelers have never seen before,” said TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir in a press release. “There’s a huge opportunity here for this to help us move the needle in bringing the business travel experience to the next level.”

The announcement comes just two weeks after travel management startup TripActions announced a direct connection with United, also using new distribution capability. The California-based business is one of the first travel management companies to adopt this technology, which is still in its early stages.

New distribution capability has received a lot of buzz from travel companies and industry players over the past two years, but adoption of it is still low in the corporate travel world. The system provides a better user interface for travelers, by allowing direct access to flights and other air travel details, making the booking process smoother and more closely mimicking the experience of purchasing personal travel.

“Business travelers expect their company’s travel management tool to provide the best prices in the market, with all fare types, and dynamic package offerings that they’ve come to enjoy when booking holidays. If they don’t, it leads to lack of trust, frustration and potential leakage,” said Richard Viner, TravelPerk’s Country Manager for the UK.

Many employees do not use company booking tools even when it is mandated because of a poor user experience, or because they believe they can get a better deal elsewhere. Meanwhile, TravelPerk’s new direct connect with Lufthansa provides companies with a 90 percent compliance rate, the startup said.

Lufthansa is the largest airline group in Europe, and has been an early supporter of the new distribution system. The airline created its NDC Partner Program in May 2018 to allow companies to connect directly through its new distribution system, and now has thousands of partners in sales and technology. The partnership with TravelPerk is a step into the travel management space, according to the airline.

Photo Credit: TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir at his desk. TravelPerk