Derek Sharp, Travelport

Derek Sharp

Travelport says its new Merchandising Platform is a game-changer as the company makes a concerted bid to reinvent and differentiate itself from competitor Global Distribution Systems.

“It is critical for us,” said Derek Sharp, Managing Director, Global Distribution and Sales at Travelport, in Singapore yesterday.

“There was a period of time where our heads were down and we were very inwardly focussed.

“Then three or four years ago we decided that we couldn’t be the same old GDS.”

So with the Merchandising Platform Travelport decided to innovate by allowing airlines to also connect through an API rather than only via “industry standard data filing protocols such as ATPCO”, which has historically been the case.

This has been key to engaging the interest of Low Cost Carriers, which have no interest in doing conducting business the old way.

EasyJet has signed up as the launch low cost carrier while many traditional carriers are also on board.

Damian Hickey, VP Distribution, Sales and Service, said the Merchandising Platform gives Travelport great leverage in expanding its airline customer base.

“I can assure you that every significant Low Cost Carrier in this part of the world is in active dialogue with us where previously we would not have been in conversation,” Mr Hickey said.

“Low Cost Carriers are hitting a glass ceiling in terms of distribution and are now saying’ how can I distribute to travel agents in a more effective and efficient way.”

The company says the Merchandising Platform also makes it easier for travel agents to sell air and the plethora of adds-ons airlines are of all hues are selling these days – everything from baggage allowances to inflight entertainment.

Travelport says the Merchandising Platform is the first that consolidates and displays shopping results within the same screen for travel agents.

It has three modules: Aggregated Shopping, Ancillary Services (both available now) and Rich Content and Branding, which is launching later this year.

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