The foundation of flight shopping in 2021 & beyond
As the year comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on the work we’ve done, the strides our industry has taken toward recovery, and what you can expect from ATPCO in 2022 and beyond.
When I took my new role as President and CEO at ATPCO in January 2021, the industry was facing the biggest crisis it had ever seen. We are still facing this crisis but are bolstered by more hope, understanding, and lessons from the past 20+ months. The recovery is underway: passenger numbers are growing and vaccinations are picking up pace in many countries, but uncertainties like the recent omicron variant remain.
We’ve seen airlines, channels, and systems do more with less, focus on collaboration, and continuously adapt to a volatile market. This determination to adapt to a radically different marketplace shows in our daily volume numbers: Our Retailing API received 13 billion requests in just the first 10 months of the year. On just one day (28 May), ATPCO distributed 4.4 billion records to the market and handled 40 million fare-related changes, the highest we’ve ever seen.
Likewise, ATPCO has had a fruitful and busy year.
Consolidated and enhanced pricing tools
In January, ATPCO purchased SITA’s fare management system, integrating Airfare Insight capabilities into our premiere pricing tool, Architect, and migrating multiple customers. Architect enables airlines to implement their pricing strategies more efficiently. In 2021, ATPCO also launched new features to streamline pricing workflows and strategies with automated business rules and custom market controls, enabling better decision making, improving speed to market, and reducing manual efforts and errors.
Greater benefits for our airline partners
We introduced our new Community Participation model, which now has over 415 member airlines and includes the ability to create more merchandising content, attend more learning courses, and explore more product features.
New global Councils
We evolved ATPCO’s Advisory Council (AAC) into five new global Councils that promote more consensus building and are focused on key areas of interest to the industry: Offer Content, Distribution & Infrastructure, Customer Care, Settlement, and Market Tools.
Reliability and embracing the cloud
Our reliability across ATPCO’s core applications exceeded 99.9%, so you can comfortably trust and rely on our services. We also moved the majority of our customer-facing data center workloads to the cloud to improve our ability to scale and innovate faster. The effort will be completed in 2022.
Launched new Routehappy API
We built the new retailing Routehappy API to offer a more efficient and comprehensive way to distribute essential retailing and flight experience information, supporting industry recovery efforts and providing simpler and faster access to airline retailing content.
Airline industry collaboration
ATPCO partnered with other airline-owned industry organizations this year. In September, we launched the new ACH (Airlines Clearing House) SMART platform that processes tens of billions of dollars of settlement for the industry. In November, we conducted a formal discovery with ARC (Airline Reporting Corporation) to explore moving ATPCO sales data to the ARC cloud platform to streamline distribution processes and deliver industry efficiencies.
Relaunched Next Generation Storefront (NGS) program
We shifted our focus to providing clear data definitions and robust content for key retailing attributes that systems and channels can use to enable flyers to shop by attribute.
While we have a lot to be proud of, ATPCO is prepping our work for 2022 and beyond. We believe four key industry initiatives will dramatically shape the future of our industry, and we are in a unique position to lead them. These initiatives will require our investment, leadership, and collaboration so we can continue innovating airline retailing throughout the entire journey of a fare. These industry initiatives will help solve important questions for airlines:
4 key airline industry initiatives for 2022
1. How do you create the offer?
Dynamic Offer Creation: Our industry, and ATPCO especially, sits on an exceptional amount of data. Using this data in new ways, we can help our partners create a customized, personalized, and dynamic offer for the traveler. In fact, more than 80% of the world’s airfare bookings go through ATPCO’s systems, and in 2022 we will be investing in Dynamic Offer Creation. Through our core knowledge of the industry, the base capabilities of our standards as a ‘product catalogue,’ and continued innovation in our platform, our partners will be able to use our capabilities in whole new way, creating industry standards along the way to drive adoption and competition in the marketplace.
2. How do you distribute the offer?
NDC: NDC has made some tremendous strides through the years, but limitations inhibit airlines from getting all their various products to work through NDC. ATPCO will leverage our community platform and our core competencies in standards, data, interline, regulatory compliance, and interoperability to enable all airline products to work seamlessly through NDC, eliminating the need for one-off solutions. By opening up the pipes, we can add significantly more fares than are bookable today. In addition to investing in expanding the NDC fares in the market, we will use our Retailing data and API to allow the industry to effectively merchandise these offers and create standards, so customers see the information they need to make an informed decision.
3. How do you visualize the offer?
NGS: We listened to the industry and pivoted Next Generation Storefront in 2021. In 2022, we will highlight retailing data as an industry standard that will enable channels to create more accurate and consistent shop-by-attribute and comparison-shopping displays. Through industry collaboration via our Councils, we will help define and evolve the attributes that matter most to the industry and travelers, starting with 16 defined attributes in Airport, Baggage, On Board, Seats, and Flexibility categories. We believe NGS is an important tool our industry needs to evolve beyond single product shopping.
4. How do you reconcile the offer?
ONE Order: Servicing and settlement are the final pieces of the puzzle, completing the transaction and ensuring each partner earns the revenue it is expecting. ATPCO formed a new committee to identify and prioritize activities that will move the industry from a costly, after-the-fact recomputing process to one where orders are created with the settlements already derived by a set of industry utilities. The future is a fully automated, efficient, and accurate way to service and track fares, products, and ancillaries so customers receive what they purchased and all monies can be accounted for properly.
What we are working toward is no easy thing to achieve. But with retailing as our focus in 2022 and with the commitment, input, and support of the industry, we are certain we can make big changes that fundamentally improve flight shopping. By making it easier for airlines and channels to leverage their most important asset—data—we know we can make scalable, essential tools and solutions that work for all.
Have a safe and healthy end of the year. See you in 2022 as we build the future of flight shopping, together.
Alex Zoghlin, President and CEO