with Travelport general manager – Pacific, Kaylene Shuttlewood

We are all now quite familiar with the term “merchandising” when it comes to air travel. It generally means the ability to take all the inventory from airlines such as air fares, upgrades, add-ons and ancillaries and pump it through to the travel agencies so they can “technically” sell everything the airlines have to offer. However, with the introduction of Travelport’s Merchandising with Rich Content and Branding, Travelport sees it as so much more.

We believe doing “merchandising” right means empowering every participant from the airline, along the whole distribution chain, right down to the end traveller. In fact, for merchandising to truly succeed, every participant must experience increased value to ensure continued buy-in. With that in mind, we make sure that the priorities and needs of every participant in our rich content and branding feature has its priorities and needs addressed. So let’s look at the airlines, agencies and travelers in turn.

For airlines, Travelport Merchandising with Rich Content and Branding offers the ability to present their brand, products and services within the Travelport Commerce Platform (GDS) in the exact visual and descriptive manner that they wish – usually a mirror of their own airline website display. This means, with Rich Content and Branding, a seat upgrade or meal add-on is marketed with photos and descriptive text, rather than a cryptic 2-alphabet code.

Well over 100 airlines globally have signed up for Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding, including many of the leading Low Cost Carriers (LCCs). The flexibility and effectiveness in selling upgrades, add-ons and ancillaries are critical to the business model of LCCs and now Travelport connected agents can sell LCC fares, add-ons and ancillaries from within their GDS, without interrupting their work flow to search on the carrier’s website.

For agents, merchandising needs to empower them to sell more “stuff” and do it more efficiently. Travelport has made it easy for agents to quickly understand what’s on offer, thus speeding up the selling process. Everything is accessible on a single screen within the booking workflow. With all that information at their fingertips, the agent becomes the expert, is well informed and can be confident that their traveller is being offered every possible option. All achieved without searching and checking multiple websites.

Travelport Merchandising with Rich Content and Branding has in fact put our airline and agency partners ahead of the curve with regards to IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) guidelines which aims to promote technology standards to enable airlines to differentiate their products with rich content to create a transparent shopping experience. Travelport Merchandising already does all that and more.

For the end consumer, when the merchandising is done right, all their needs can be met by their travel agent. There is no need to look for travel insurance or search and book local attractions on their own. All their travel needs can be met from one source. And let’s face it – Who has time to mess around or get it wrong?

Travelport continues to invest in its merchandising capabilities, having been recognised as TTG Travel Awards’ “Best GDS” 2015 in Asia Pacific for the 7th year in a row, and in 2014 AFTA’s Best Travel Technology Innovation and the TAANZ Best Technology Supplier.

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