Direct Selling for Aviation

Dec 7, 2018 · 3 min read
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Historically, large airlines have consumed inventory-selling backend software (traditionally called Passenger Service Systems or PSS) from GDS providers such as Navitaire, Amadeus, Sabre, and others. There are smaller PSS providers, such as KIU and IBS, who provide inventory reservation systems for smaller regional airlines. These providers also provide a configurable frontend system that can be tweaked to the airlines preferences. This is similar to a Shopify in the E-commerce world. In the case of aviation retail, complex business rules exist that are different for each airline. These rules could be as simple as the minimum number of days between an onward and return flight ; or complex as bundled service offerings such as [premium seat + free meal + priority boarding].

Airlines had originally opted for this platform due to a couple of reasons:

  1. Everyone else was on similar platforms (hosted by each of the GDSs)
  2. The process of buying a flight ticket online was uniformly sub-optimal everywhere, and hence there was no incentive to change.

The online travel agencies (OTAs) and aggregators have made their appearance felt in the last decade. Their User Experience (UX) and technology is state of the art. These platforms are built using agile teams, who iteratively experiment and keep innovating to move forward.

So, does that leave airlines in the lurch? Well, yes, and no. Not, until they quickly move. And some airlines have moved, and some are moving. So, what is the problem, then? The problem is that, until now, for most airlines, the backend API consumption and the frontend configuration has mostly been done by large consulting corporations. These are largely contracts with maintenance retainers and “head-count”/”hourly” support. The airlines do not have too much control over this “direct” selling that is offered to them.

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Inflexible frontend platforms of some current airlines

The airlines that are moving/moved are the ones who are new (and hence have their own tech team) or those who are large enough to afford their own innovation labs. Which leaves behind a significant chunk of LCCs and legacy carriers.

The advantages of a direct selling platform such as Travenues Direct Selling Platform are:

  1. Extensive configurability of any part of the ecommerce funnel: The rigid inflexibilities of the frontend platforms provided by the PSS are not present. Extensive configurability of any page in the funnel can be done, and for temporal periods of time (sale periods etc)
  2. Smartly up-sell ancillaries: The platform pages are so configurable that you can smartly up sell ancillaries dynamically.
  3. Integrate tightly with loyalty and other third party systems: Much easier to integrate deeply into third party systems.
  4. Payments: Since the booking flow is owned by you, you have the flexibility of integrating the payment gateways of your choice, with the best commercials that you negotiate.
  5. State of the art UX: Developed by designer folks, who are experts in E-commerce retailing, and well versed in user interface design.
  6. Uniform look and feel: The booking funnel is consistent across mobile sites, apps, and the websites.
  7. Insights: Extensive insights can be instrumented into the flow to capture customer behaviour.
  8. Experimentation: The platform gives the ability to experiment flows and UX variants across your user base. Travellers across the world are different.
  9. Agility: Yes, airline websites can be agile too, and incrementally evolve. The Travenues Direct Selling platform enables you to be that.
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One of the optimised screens of the Direct Booking Flow

The technology age is moving towards platforms on the cloud. Agility and configurability are the traits of new businesses. Why should Airlines miss out? Getting on to the Direct Selling platform would let the airlines focus on what they do best —

You fly the planes in the most operationally efficient manner, and own your pax. Leave the consumer facing technology to the our platform.

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