On demand | Elevate 2022

Creating @ play: Express Contracts

Session details


Get your fares to market faster than ever before with Express Contracts, the power-up you never knew how much you needed. You’ll hear from one of ATPCO’s customers who adopted Express Contracts about how they embraced a better way to get negotiated fares into the market.

Learn how to accelerate your revenue generation, improve your efficiency, and increase your customer’s satisfaction. It’s your move.


Doug: Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining Julian and I today for a session on Express Contracts.  

Many of you are customers of the solution, many of you have heard about the solution, some of you haven't heard about the solution. So we're hoping to raise awareness and transparency of the product that we have and hopefully build some excitement around it.  

Let's take a few minutes to review. There won't be any tests. And then we'll end this part of the session, which is not the most exciting part. We'll play a nice video.  

Video narrator: Is your airline looking for ways to make it easier to manage your private programs and get them to market faster? Express Contracts, built in partnership with Volaro, simplifies and streamlines your contract management process, reducing your reliance on disparate resources across your organization.  

Your sales team works hard investing significant time and effort negotiating deals. They want to see the fares in market as quickly as possible, and your customers do too. By embracing the power of automation, your sales team can begin going from signed contracts to bookable fares in a matter of hours, creating a competitive advantage for your airline.  

Consistent, repeatable processes and a user-friendly dashboard give your sales team increased control and visibility. They can view contract status and let customers know when the fares will be available in market, improving relationships and driving more sales.  

Whether or not you are currently using a CMS such as PRISM or Salesforce, ATPCO offers a variety of integration options for Express Contracts that are scalable to meet the needs of any airline. Our experts will work with you to design an implementation strategy in line with your goals and priorities.  

When your airline is ready to take the next step in achieving your automation goals, speak to an ATPCO representative today.  

Doug: This is really a story about automation. So you've been hearing in the conference there's a lot of innovative changes going on in the marketplace, a lot of the tools and products and people you know are geared around automation to actually enable innovation. I'll give you a little bit of context about it and Julian is joining us to tell his story of Southwest business. So how many airlines in here are in the sales role? In sales-ish, sales operations, IT efficiency roles? Anybody? Not? Okay. And then of course pricing implementation roles is probably the majority here. But what I just want to say about that is that everybody, all of those different areas of the organization, all have a common goal is to get fares into the market, selling. Selling quickly and accurately as well. So you know a lot of times when we're talking about the product we tend to involve the three stakeholder groups that I just was speaking to. That's just broad context around it.  

So we saw some trends happening during the pandemic and they're all leading to Express Contracts being of higher value than it was probably before the pandemic even. But you know these are stats that we compiled from various sources, but there was a lot of impact on the workforce. These airlines have a lot of people retired, all types of reasons moved around, shuffled within the organization and everybody was doing more with less lead. But a lot of this is subject matter expertise that may be out. So as you know, corporate contracts are some of the most complex designs within the ATPCO systems. Those are some of the most robust rule restriction categories are baked into that solution. So you had workforces leaving, the workforce was diminishing. At ATPCO during the pandemic, surprisingly, we saw a record number of fare activity. Through the roof. We hit 410 million fare changes in March alone. So that just speaks a lot to networks were changing, everybody who's trying to figure it out. There's a lot of activity was happening with the pandemic.  

So you've got subject matter expertise dropping, you've got fare volatility raising, and then GBTA shared yesterday, it's all coming back. So travel demand is starting to spike, this is all really taking off. So there's an expectation, already seeing that supposed 33.8% increase year over year, just the zero level and it's really going to continue to just accelerate and take off. So this is just giving you a little bit of context for driving towards the solution.  

This was an idea I tried. I was going to go down the whole Magic 8 Ball route and wasn't, didn't pass some of the marketing tests-- does everybody know what a Magic 8 Ball is? Something. It looks like a giant 8 ball, while you shake it, you ask a question and it comes up with an answer. So you're going to see some of the answers in that globe over on the right.  

What if. So, given all that subject matter expertise, corporate travel coming back, fare volatility, what if you could have a touchless, automated end-to- end workflow? Touchless meaning from even a customer sales portal all the way out to the market without any interaction from humans. Of course it's positive.  

What if you could take all 100% of your private care program coverage and put it through the solution? So it's not really just about corporate contracts, that could be leisure anything, private programs. Tactical. Yes of course.  

What if you could remove all the bottlenecks and backlogs so you know sales is getting contracts deals done, it's going through an intermediate processes that Julian will talk about and then it gets put on the desks of the pricing team. Sometimes, it's not in every case, but sometimes you will get backlogs and bottlenecks and that just means that those fares aren't selling in the market. That's without a doubt. You could automate a lot of your workflows and you could streamline all of this. I think every airline is doing this either in house or through other solutions trying to make all this automated to free up the subject matter space to actually be a more innovative and strategic thing. So this is, and you can tell in the conference with all the change that's happening in the world and the airlines are changing rapidly, you know this is a good thing.  

And then also there's a benefit in predictable revenue forecasting. So you know when the deal is done, you know when the when the fares are in the market selling, it's happening very quickly and that could help you with revenue forecasting.  

OK, so this is all happening now. These aren't really what ifs, this is actually, we're doing this today. In 2022, we processed over 70% of the Express Contracts submissions in under 30 minutes and 90% of those were completed in two hours. So I'm going to talk a little bit about workflow and I'm going to hand it over to Julian and we're just gonna leave this up here just to give context.  

But this is the current workflow, it's very typical. I'm sure it's going to resonate with a lot of folks. You may have a customer sales portal. This is some of the innovative work that United Airlines is in the news doing now with self-service is really this pocket here. And a lot of the innovations happen in this area. You could go right to a sales rep and enter that information into a contract management system, which is very, very common. The contract management system has an output to direct my call, direct sales and sales operations, sales efficiency, sales excellence. It has a million different things in there, but that direct sales is really the bridge between the contract management system and the pricing. And of course the pricing team puts it in the system and it gets packaged and distributed by ATPCO and it gets out into the market and that's bookable fares.  

But what really tends to happen is there might be a lot of these arrows and the questions, this is what we meant. This is translating, think of in the days of paper contracts it was a paper contract, you've got to translate that into ATPCO data structures and so you get a lot of "lost in translation," I'll say. These teams don't know tariffs, tables, sequences, cats. All the cats, and I promise there's not a slide about cats. All category restrictions that we have, and the pricing team has to understand what was meant in the deal and just make sure that's happening. So I just see this as kind of circular.  

And then even bookable fares in the market, they could be the customer may say this doesn't look right. There might be something wrong. Those questions can come back to the pricing team or back to the sales rep.  

So what we're going to focus on with Express Contracts is those shaded areas. So it's taking output from the contract management system. We have multiple ways in the product to integrate and automate this. It can be a manual Excel sheet that you have automation to populate or it can be APIs connected directly to the output of the Salesforce or PRISM contract management system. Does all that sound right? Is this right? Good.  

So Julian is joining us today from Southwest Business. And Southwest Airlines is a recent customer of Express Contracts and there's been some news out there. United's been in the news with Express Contracts gold and I could go down the list, but we're seeing a lot of success and a lot of interest in the product that I want Julian to tell the story from your voice. Maybe just introduce yourself and then tell us what got you on this path to automation of corporates.  

Julian: Hello, everyone. My name is Julian Azzam. I'm currently a senior manager with Southwest Business where I was operations and products. And at Southwest Airlines we are known to be the love airline, so I'm going to start with a little bit of fun and then hand a little bit of love. So for the fun in the room, there's Does anybody know what a baby computer calls its father? Yeah. Data.  


The partnership that we had with Doug and team, you heard today or yesterday from GBTA, talked about going back into pre-pandemic levels of corporate travel and we have a lot of contracts that are still folks are implementing every day that go to our pricing team. We saw a lot of sometimes friction, inefficiencies and the manual data entry that our sales folks were putting in a project management system and how it would flow into ATPCO FareManager. So we were looking for creative ways to build an API or marketplace.  

That's when Doug and his team from ATPCO said there's a tool called Express Contracts, that does just that. It hooks between your contract management system into FareManager. There's a couple of ways which we're going to talk about the format in which that's sent, but basically what it does is it makes the manual data entry from the contract management system to the pricing team to FareManager and it integrates it completely directly from, whether you use PRISM or Salesforce to go from Salesforce into FareManager.  

So you see here, we also just launched a portal as well at Southwest Business because self-service automation, that is the future. And a lot of our customers already have access to our portal where they are just looking at their contracts, they're seeing what's available, they're requesting contracts. There's a lot of meetings, a lot of groups being held right now. And so that information is going to our sales reps, but sales reps are entering into a contract and that contract, as soon as they enter that into a, what we call a business case or contract, it automatically sends a API call into ATPCO FareManager using Express Contracts.  

I think one of the great things that we've been able to do is ATPCO Express Contracts offers a gold environment. So you can do concept and test, test this and then that was one of our success stories going into it. But what we found is that removed step, that friction point that increases efficiency and also allows for faster go to market, whereby what consumers want is that faster go to market speed. As well as putting the contracts to use and setting the [inaudible] to travel. So it's a not complicated view of how we use Express Contracts.  

Doug: And did you see an alignment of the stars between the different business areas?  

Julian: We had a lot of workshops and my friends right here from my location, from technology area, lot of workshops with architecture, with revenue management to make sure that this met our standards for architecture and functionality and of course certain business stakeholders. Very excited about the speed to market.  

Doug: And so the solution does have multiple paths, it's very flexible. You can even run two parallel implementations if you wanted to use the Excel Standard Instruction Form for part of it and the API for the other part and so it has those different solutions, but just curious what led you down the API road versus the Standard Instruction.  

Julian: We were using a form of the Excel that we had in-house built, which was the manual way. And the API just met our standards. Remarkably interesting and also sets us up for success for the future. You hear things about machine learning, artificial intelligence, and so the API is what sets us up for success.  

Doug: And when you started implementing Express Contracts did it leapfrog or accelerate plans you already had for solving that scene?  

Julian: Yeah. Whenever we are looking at a solution, we're trying to see what we can build. We were working with our developers and since you guys have an off the shelf product that we can leverage it definitely accelerated that development and if we can just configure the API connection between Express Contracts and the contract management system and it definitely moves us forward.  

Doug: And any hurdles that you encountered, challenges and how to do it?  

Julian: Yeah, we've had some hurdles. You know, automation helps hurdles. I think change management, those are biggest hurdle, pricing teams is doing things for years and years, our sales team is doing things for years and years. So change management is definitely a hurdle. I think the way you overcome that hurdle is you have a good change management process in place, you have a good release management schedule, you involve all stakeholders, you can escape as much as possible of all the different things that are changing because we did change the terms. That way, things will work for a long time.  

Doug: And is there a next level? So you're in your initial phase of your implementation, are you already thinking about your next level?  

Julian: Yes, I think our next level is, like I said, full and end-to-end automation. So currently we have a one way integration between our CMS and Express Contracts and FareManager. We definitely want a full bidirectional implementation where if something was filed because response that updates the contract real time. So somebody in the portal requested a contract they can see that in the portal. And then like I said, we hear a lot about dynamic offers and how the future there, so we want to be set up for success there for future projects.  

Doug: And last question, I suppose, do you have any advice for anybody considering trying this?  

Julian: Yes, definitely. And you've heard Alex talk about it. Proof concept. Like I said, you guys offer the gold environment test and see if this meets your needs. We tested a lot. OK, do a proof of concept and make sure that this fits your need because that was very helpful for us.  

Doug: And how many people in the room have not heard of Express Contracts? Is anybody unaware?  

Audience member: May I ask you a question?  

Doug: Sure.  

Audience member: So how long is this journey? From beginning to end? How long until you can upload the first contract?  

Julian: You're, you see, we're still in the draft. And I think. And our relationship, I want to say a year ago. And there was a lot of workshops and I would say we dedicated about 3-4 months of workshops and back and forth integration.  

Audience member: Okay. I still have questions. My second question is what type of contracts are you actually following through...are they very simple, are they medium or?  

Julian: Good question. We actually want all types of contracts from simple to complex. So we started with our basic transient travel contracts. We are incorporating meetings, contracts, offers. We're building a solution for all types of contracts.  

Doug: And I think It's highly unlikely that anybody just jumped into a fully automated, you know, somebody jumped to. You have to trust the automation. Trust is earned. I think what we tend to see is that you'll implement the solution but you'll want some kind of stop gap measure down in the pricing team or the packaging distribution portion of this so you can review the data, make sure the content's there and then it requires manual release in that workflow. But over time we are seeing the actual contracts flow down.  

And so. The most technical slide, we'll throw on the notes afterwards. Optimized workflow. Again, you've got your—this is a deeper dive into the shaded areas on the prior slide. You got your contract management system. You've got a lot of integration opportunities in here, Volaro or partners at Volaro up here in the second round are very good at these kind of integrations, very, very efficient in doing that on the airlines as well. Here take this on themselves. We have a dedicated team at ATPCO that helps everybody integrate and implement.  

Julian: Yes. Give a big shout out to the Volaro team as well Swati, Joy, Brendan and they've been kind of side by side, helping us through the implementation also. I'll give a shout out there.  

Doug: The huge support network. If you go to the Standard Instruction or you could use the data, the data interface, the API, that can be loaded into Express Contracts. There's of course a dashboard where you can see the work, the units of work and how they're processing. And that's counters in there. And it's got some kind of error handling as you would expect a dashboard to have and then if all looks good, you can go right to ATPCO FareManager and be released to the market. It takes about 2 hours from when it hits Express Contracts until the pricing team can go out and see it. About 2 hours.  

Dave Harvey at Southwest Airlines had a great slogan in the press release about same day fares like at the dry cleaners.  


But it's good. It's good. So any questions on the workflows or the benefits or any questions on support?  

Audience member: I have a question. What kind of efficiency can you talk about? You talk about the efficiency that you've seen so far. Have you been able to have data around what you've seen?  

Julian: So you think about the efficiency that's gained from going from manual to automated. And we're working through this right now and we see the KPIs to the automated numbers that are coming through, so if we have a contract that was sent via contract management system to Express we're going to quantify that, see where things went wrong. Fix it rather than something that's manual [inaudible] But we're able to quantify what the automation and the numbers that are going to make this decision.  

Doug: And there may be some ways to quantify the accuracy part of it. Debit memos slowing down, things like that. There's ways to measure the benefits of it.  

Audience member: I was just wondering any category—I'm super shy now—Can all the categories be through Express Contracts?  

Doug: I don't think, it's right here. I don't think it's 100% of them.  

Swati: For the categories that you file for putting your programs on these are supported. There are other means of supporting any categories that are not directly supported so the overall message is, yes, they are supported.  

Audience member: Can changes be processed through the system?  

Doug: Yes. It could be a brand new contract, it could be changes to existing contracts. rules, terms, and conditions. But I would say the majority of categories are corporate deals. I would imagine.  

Julian: We have a lot of updates to contacts. It's not just brand new contracts. It's distribution channel. It's not just brand new contracts it's also updates.  

Doug: And I would say every customer that we on board, we learn a few new ways. As you know, there's a lot of ways to achieve the same result using ATPCO systems. So we learn a little bit more from each implementation of the product evolves with changes, so there's a lot of general rule navigation that happens with the fare structures, for example. So if we find there's customer needs along the journey and it's playing into us and implementing it, the Volaro team is really great, they have startup moxie and, they're very reactive. The solutions there evolve. And it's good for the community.  

Julian: Scottish accent, too.  

Doug: Yeah.  

Audience member: Do you have a demo dashboard? Did you say something about?  

Doug: I didn't put any screenshots of it in here but we're happy to reach out, and we're happy to work with you directly. Not sure if in the Solution Alley if we're doing any kind of Express Contracts demos?  

Swati: We can set that up.  

Audience member: I have a question for you, Doug. Where's ATPCO at just in terms of adoption for carriers, how many folks do you have using this outside just like POC, is like we're talking we'll be on POC at this point, but how many airlines do you have in the tank and how many of those folks are using this as a solution?  

Doug: Yeah, we have about, I want to say around 16 airlines roughly of different shapes and sizes and around the globe. We have a lot in the pipeline that are really through the we have to do a lot of proof of concept. We first ask for examples of your contracts. We have to look at your data structures. We have to run it through our test system, see if there's any red flags there. There's usually not a lot of that, there's a lot of upfront I call it proof of concept before we go to commercial agreements and things like that. So there is a little bit of a lull, a longer sales cycle just for that.  

Audience member: How do you guys look at as you onboard more folks like community releases versus like individual enhancements or specific airlines or what's your thought there?  

Doug: Swati's a lot closer than I am, but I think like I said, if there's enhancements that are low-hanging fruit if you will and Volaro, they can get in and they're owning the software and the development shop for it unless it's a dashboard.  

Swati: The solution is a community-based solution. Any features and functionalities that our customers are looking for, be it customers that are onboarding or customers that are very actively using to implement new programs and new functionality. Absolutely happy to work with the community and get those delivered. If you're looking for enhancements to your specific workflow, you may have the option of, you can do it in house or you can work with our folks. But there are options to do that.  

Doug: Thank you. Thanks for those questions. Everybody know what this is? Hopefully it's getting [inaudible] 

So we're going to sort of do a kind of a slide called, what's holding you back. So we know there's concerns out there, there's questions about the solution. Julian and I kind of just play all these questions. I just came up with that. What would you say if someone said, I don't trust automation? 

Julian: You know, obviously those have pros and cons so it's manual. But I think automation, that's where the future. And you've heard it throughout this conference. So. As much as I would say, you know, I trust automation, I trust.  

Doug: And some of that trust comes with change. What would you say to someone who said I would have to build APIs, and I don't have the resources to do that in my organization? 

Julian: We have a small but mighty team and we partner very closely with the Volaro team which are there through everything, so I would say you can do this. Part of the pricing team should also [inaudible] And an alternative is, remember I was saying earlier, Volaro is, this is right in their wheelhouse. Outsource that integration work or partner. Partners can help a lot there.  

Doug: What would you say if somebody said business process reengineering was just too heavy a lift?  

Julian: Yeah, there's a lift. And so we have to kind of change and go back to change management The way we process these contracts. So you have to be able to dedicate to change management. But it's totally worth it because it put us through the effort.  

Doug: I'll take this one. This solution is cost prohibitive. So this is a more commercial discussion, but I say that we don't, we're not a commercial organization, we exist to lower distribution costs of an airline. So it's not really a profit for us, but we recently changed the model, the pricing model, so that it's not punitive, you're not paying, the price tag doesn't go up the more volume you pursue. It's actually quite the opposite. The unit of work cost goes down the more volume that you have. It's almost an incentive to get those economies of scale. The price, I can tell you, it starts at maybe, for the first 2000 contracts, because some of the cost, that's the heavy lifting that we have to do. It ranges from an $8.00 a contract and it gets down as low as $0.26.  

Julian: It's very reasonable.  

Doug: Yeah. And keep in mind the unit of work is a carrier tariff rule. CTR. Yeah, you know all those terms. That's the unit of work. I think technically you can have multiple corporations within the single group, so that unit of work actually it's not a direct cap to the number of contracts, that just depends on how you organize them.  

And then this is, what would I say if somebody said this is not for an airline of my size?  


I can't remember. But I can tell you that it has benefited airlines from all, like I said, of all sizes and models. And again, it's not really only about corporate contracts. It doesn't have to be that those workflows that we were showing you or that they're really was the main driver for the solution, but it can do a lot more. You can actually do all your security updates through it. There's a plethora of solutions through the automated tool. I can't change the slide.  

So the takeaways, just to leave you with some takeaways unless there's other questions and to the point on demos, things like that, happy to, engage with you. Reach out to your account rep. You know we're happy to go through to have the discussion. Look at your current workflows, look at your data structures and help you in this area.  

The takeaway though, is there's definitely an amplified need out there for automation of private programs specifically, for all the reasons that we gave earlier in the presentation. Things are moving a lot faster. There's pockets of automation happening across all the different pieces of the organization as we, it goes across revenue management systems, fare management systems. You can see what's happening out there. So there's definitely a draw for this as the fare volatility, I imagine, will continue to rise. Express Contracts is vastly different now from when it began. I think it began as a good solution. But if you looked at it five years ago, again, it's greatly evolved. We have new integration methodologies that we can employ and you just do that. There's a lot more features we've added since a relatively short time ago, so if you saw it and you looked at it and you tested it even, give it a second look.  

And then lastly, I see what scalable workflows enable same day fares in the market are within your reach. So you've seen implementations as short as three months to the more complex ones if you're using API integrations you're looking at 8 months to 12 months.  


So, and then lastly just contact us if you're interested. Like I said, we provide evaluation, we do pretty robust evaluations and then we run it through the system and we reengage with you and talk to you about that.  

Solution breakout • Express Contracts

An event experience you can't miss

ATPCO's Elevate + ARC's TravelConnect

Speakers ondemand


doug sharpe headshot

Doug Sharpe

Commercial Director, Americas, ATPCO

A transformational leader and advocate for simplicity, Doug has over 20 years of experience in the travel industry spanning technology, product, marketing, business development, and sales. In his current post as Commercial Director of ATPCO’s accounts in the Americas, Doug leads Partner Success initiatives aimed at unlocking potential value for customers in order to help them meet their goals. Doug is an avid traveler and musician with roots on both the East and West coasts.

julian azzam headshot

Julian Azzam

Senior Manager, Sales Operations & Products , Southwest Airlines

Julian is an industry leader with over ten years of experience in sales operations and technology. He leads multiple teams focused on enabling and growing revenue, CRM & data strategies, and enhancing the B2B experience for customers while driving sales strategy and execution. Julian is a powerful force in the workplace and uses his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. Julian holds an MBA from Colorado Technical University with an emphasis in Technology Management. In his free time, Julian enjoys running, biking, concerts, music festivals, traveling, and keeping up with the latest gadgets and technologies. 

You might also like

atpco express contracts
Express Contracts automates your commercial contract process so you can get to market faster and increase your bottom line. 
atpco express contracts
Turn your signed contracts into bookable fares in hours.
atpco express contracts
Get an in-depth look at the tool you didn’t know you needed with our ATPCO team.