New to the game? Here’s how ATPCO can help
In 2021, there is no doubt that the game has changed for everyone in the travel industry.
As an airline-owned entity connecting airlines, systems, and sales channels, ATPCO plays a foundational role in the evolution of airline retailing, distribution, industry standards, governance, and collaborative innovation.
This session gave Elevate attendees a view into today’s ATPCO and its unique place in the industry.
- A partner to over 600 airlines, systems, and channels
- The industry source for airline pricing and shopping data, covering more than 90 percent of the world’s flight schedules
- A supplier of essential infrastructure for the global airline distribution ecosystem
- A provider of industry standards and governance that ensure consistency and interoperability no matter what product is being sold, by whom, or in what channel
- Trusted as a neutral, airline-owned entity that exists to return value to the industry
Where are you in your retailing journey?
ATPCO will meet you there and support your next-level goals.
The mission of airline retailing has never changed: delighting travelers results in more revenue and loyal customers. However, the way retailing happens is undergoing a profound transformation. Airlines and channels alike are embracing new approaches to offer creation, shopping, pricing, distribution, payments, servicing, and settlement. And it’s all playing out in a global, interconnected industry of travel suppliers, buyers, and channels.
As a foundational player in this industry, ATPCO supports all organizations no matter where they are in the journey to modernized retail. We are committed to delivering industry standards, governance, programs, technology, and leadership to propel our industry forward. Our design teams, Councils, and industry events provide unmatched opportunities for global collaborative innovation.
Oh! Hey. Sorry! I was just trying to level up, between that automation power charge and continuous pricing, I was so close to hitting dynamic offer creation!
Anyway, hi, everyone. I’m Andrea Bonaiuto, Acting Director of Marketing here at ATPCO, aka dre507. And I’m joined by Doug Sharpe, Head of Sales and Partner Success for North America, aka razor568.
We're so excited to help introduce the Elevate conference after that fantastic Q&A with Jane, CEO of Trip.com, and we're even more excited to have so many game changers here today. In fact, we have 245 plus unique organizations, including over a hundred airlines and a solid regional mix with six percent in attendance from Latin America, 25 percent from Asia Pacific, 30 percent from North America, and 39 percent from Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
That's awesome, awesome attendance.
You notice this session’s titled “New to the Game.” This is our acknowledgement that, with so much change in our industry, we recognize there's many of us in new jobs, new roles. We're doing more with less, we're taking on new responsibilities, some of us have shifted to new organizations. It's also very likely that there's many of you in the audience that are starting new careers in the airline industry game.
But let's face it, the game has radically changed for everyone, especially over the past two years.
Whether you're a new partner interacting with us for the first time, or you've worked with us for decades, this session and this conference is for you.
So let's start with a simple question. What does ATPCO do? Haven't they been around forever?
And the answer to that last question is, for many of you possibly, we have been around forever. We got our start in 1965 and we've been serving the industry for over 50 years, obviously, and we're quite proud of it. Back when we started, we were publishing tariff pages and books. If you wanted to know what the price of something was, you learned about it through going to a travel agency, walking into an airport.
If the fare was complex, they actually used these publications to assemble the fares. Retailing of the offer was done through advertising, word of mouth, marketing, personal experience, movies, television, you know, it goes on and on. That's how you learned about what the what the travel experience was going to be.
But we've come a long way, and five decades provides ample time to accomplish a lot, and we have, but there's still much to be done and this industry never rests.
So if you ask people in the industry about ATPCO, you'll probably hear all kinds of words describing actions, business areas, products, features, services. You'll also hear, of course, a healthy dose of acronyms, if you haven't gotten a dose of these already, but despite the fact that these descriptions are accurate and they're very relevant, especially if you interact with these components of getting your offer to market on a daily basis. They really don't tell a story on their own, but if you take them collectively, they do start to paint a broader picture of ATPCO in our role in the industry. And stated simply it's this:
We are the industry source for airline pricing and shopping data.
We partner with more than 600 airlines, systems, and channels to display airline offers that drive conversion and ultimately revenue. We are a neutral honest broker and steward of these three very important industry assets, that is, the data, the standards that govern the use of that data, and the solutions that bring both the data and those standards to life. And there actually might even be an easier way to level up and describe what ATPCO is and what we're all about, and perhaps what we all have in common, and that one word is retailing.
Retailing. Doug, that is actually so true. Retailing it is.
Now I can already hear people saying, wait, what? Retailing is only part of what we do. It's one of the many pieces. But hear me out. If you really think about it, retailing is all about a set of questions that haven't changed since the beginning of time and do encompass all aspects from offer creation to distribution to customer care to settlement.
If you plan to sell anything, you need to answer these questions: what's the product, meaning what are the attributes, What are we actually selling here? What is the offer? Who's the customer, who's eligible for the product? What's the price, what's the total offer? Where is it sold, or how do we distribute it? How is a product serviced, meaning what happens when things change and the customer needs help? And finally, how is the money handled, or how do we settle the funds?
These questions are the same whether we're selling the latest version of Minecraft or a premium economy bundle on your favorite airline, and it all falls under the umbrella of retailing, which is a pretty effective way to describe the scope of what all of us here at Elevate do. So it sounds pretty easy, right, just answer a few questions and we all win. Right, Doug?
I wish it was that simple, but the answer is not exactly. We are in the airline travel industry after all, and nothing is simple. When we go to answer some of those fundamental retailing questions like what is the price, there's a lot going on behind the scenes.
There's base amounts, fees, surcharges, taxes to consider, ancillary offers, whether it's bundled or unbundled, and that's just your offers. If you're in an alliances, code shares, interline agreements, it's your offer and your partner's offer as well that has to be combined, coordinated to present that final offering to the traveler. So it's a lot to take in and manage.
But retailing in this industry, it's obvious it involves a lot of knowledge, data, processes, and systems. It's not for the faint of heart. It's also complex, but this complexity should not be feared. It should actually be embraced because it provides you with all the necessary flexibility to differentiate your offers out in the market. We don't want it to create any barriers, of course, so ATPCO is laser focused on removing those complexity barriers wherever possible, and we're doing this through more intuitive platforms to manage your content. We're doing it through automation of workflows, automation of content aggregation and assembly, and we've established dedicated integration teams, just to name a few.
That is all very impressive, and another thing about airline retailing. It involves a lot of players. There are many departments that work together to answer the core retailing questions, and it's safe to say that anyone here at Elevate is somehow tied to this process. And if you work for an airline, no doubt you wear one or more of these hats.
So as we kick off the conference and as you ponder the wide range of topics on our agenda for the next three days, we're asking everyone to think about your role in this process.
So back to ATPCO, it's all about retailing, we got that, but where, how, what does ATPCO specifically have to do with this process of getting an offer to the market?
In fact, it's foundational. We work with all of you across the entire industry to provide a common foundation for the end-to-end retailing process. This foundation ensures all players have accessed the same game pieces and rules of the game, like the standards of governance and infrastructure, and more. Isn't that right, Doug?
That's absolutely right. So we talk about ATPCO being the foundation for flight shopping. Let's talk about that for a while because it is very, we use it a lot, and it's very intentional. Anytime you're building anything new or rebuilding something, you really want a solid foundation, for example, if you're building a house or rebuilding a house, but when you're supporting an almost trillion-dollar travel industry that touches all corners of the globe, requires extreme connectivity, accuracy, and reliability. You really do need and want a solid foundation underneath of you that you can confidently use and that you can rely on and trust.
Our foundation is made up of several key components. First, we provide essential infrastructure. This supports a complex global network of airline distribution ecosystems. It's what we call running the network across our global community.
We're also a trusted data source. We provide data that covers more than 90 percent of the world's flight schedules.
We drive industry standards to ensure there's consistency and interoperability no matter what product is being sold, how, or where.
We have a universal distribution reach that connects the entire airline value chain, and we engage across the community to evolve innovation and build capabilities at scale.
Lastly, we're uniquely positioned to do all this because we're a neutral, airline-owned entity. We exist to return value back to the airline industry.
So all of these things drive solutions that enable end-to-end retailing processes that entails creating the offer. As you say, getting it to market, servicing it, and settling it.
You know, and speaking of end-to-end retailing processes, just like those key questions we mentioned, in many respects the mission of airline retailing has not changed since the early days of paper tickets. The airlines want to sell a product that will result in more revenue and happy customers, which is key to satisfaction and loyalty. Again the core questions of what's the product, what's the price, how is it distributed, and how is it serviced, and so on, have always needed to be answered, but over time and most certainly in today's world of digital, the way retail happens has changed and evolved a lot.
And it's affecting all of us, both from a consumer and traveler perspective as well as stakeholders in this changing industry, and that translates to real changes in terms of technology investment, innovation priorities, and how our community evolves.
You're absolutely right, and we can see this evolution happening right before our eyes right now. As we think about offer creation, we see an evolution from static or non-contextualized to dynamic and personalized products. Pricing strategies are evolving from traditional fare filing base fare models to new solutions like continuous pricing and strategic offer management.
Distribution is shifting from scheduled flat file feeds of raw data components to more dynamic API message response type protocols that deliver assembled data, and to NDC standards and we have NDC services as well.
Looking at servicing, we see manual changes and refunds moving to 100 percent automation of this, often enabling self-service at the traveler level via mobile devices at the airport when the changes are happening, for example.
And finally the financial aspect of all is evolving too, as we see settlement of funds moving from a ticketing process to a single, seamless ONE Order.
So the question for all of you today is where are you in this evolution? What do you need to take it to the next step?
We recognize in the greater travel ecosystem everyone will go at their own pace in the evolution to retailing and digital, and that's totally okay. No matter where you are on the path, ATPCO will support you all. We provide whatever's needed to put that solid foundation into place, and whether it's data, new standards, or new technology solutions.
And I should say that we don't do this alone. We have hundreds of partners out there in the industry that we work with to deliver solutions for airline retailing using ATPCO standards and products. The power of collaborative innovation cannot be understated. It's fundamental to the industry's success, and by working together we can build great things.
You know, that is so true, Doug. In fact, we host fantastic design teams that look at the tactical details of solutions as well as the ATPCO Councils which help prioritize what ATPCO works on with industry feedback. You'll hear more about these groups in the session called “Choosing our journey wisely: How councils explore with which paths we should take.”
So we've seen the industry come together in tremendous ways over the last 18 months, a lot of which has been facilitated by ATPCO and partners to bring key solutions to the market to support response and recovery, and really this is just the start.
So to close us out, we are asking ourselves and asking you, what is your Elevate game plan? We know that there's a lot going on over the next couple of days and to keep it simple we've categorized the sessions into the same main questions we've been asking. Personally I’m super excited for the diversity, equity, and inclusion session with Delta's chief DEI officer and the NDC panel, getting NDC to scale, and pretty much every other session. Doug, what are you excited about? What's your Elevate game plan?
I have to admit I’m kind of addicted to use cases, so I’m really excited to hear about British Airways’ adoption of Dual RBD and United's adoption of Express Contracts to see how that automation returned value to them. I’m also really, really excited about the Next Generation Storefront. I really do feel like that is the game changer for retailing in the near future.
Yeah, that's absolutely true. And so we have the same question for everyone in the audience as well. How about you? We want to know, what is your Elevate game plan?
All right, so like we said, we want to hear from you.
We want to know a little bit more about you first, so to start us off, how long have you been a player in the airline industry? You can answer this question by going to the polling icon on the right side of your screen. If you click that little icon you should see a poll pop out and the first question is, how long have you been a player in the airline industry? Are you new to the game, maybe in the game for less than a year, has it been one to five years, has it been six to ten years, or maybe you are a total industry veteran and it's been 11 to 20 plus years? We want to hear from you.
We see the response is coming in already, which is fantastic, thank you so much. It's fascinating. We see a spectrum actually, and we'll make sure to share these insights back to you at the end of the conference as well. So this is our first question, let's jump into the next question. Doug, take it away.
Sure. So the next question is, what's the focus of your next level up in the retailing journey? As we said previously, these are the fundamental steps and ATPCO will support you in whatever, wherever you are on your journey. So let's walk through them a little bit. What's the product; are you moving away from commoditized towards more personalized offers? Are you branding, having branded bundles with ancillaries? Do you have special offers, that is really tailored and customized towards even down to the individual level? Are you decorating the offer with visual content that actually engages your consumers and it drives upsell and conversions and more? So that's all under what's the product.
Now that I've figured out the product, what's the price? Is price a focus? We're seeing a lot of science happening in the dynamic pricing space with revenue management tools. Other technology providers are all trying to figure out that dynamic pricing. Many of you have already embraced Dual RBD to exponentially expand your 26 price points, but then you can take it all the way to continuous pricing if you want to.
Then on the tool side, we're getting away from fare management tools and really heading towards a vision of offer management because if you look at all the components, at least the few that are listed up on the product question above, you can see that you really want transparency. You want to consolidate all that content. You want to have a seamless process as you're as you're managing that content. So that's number two.
So the third one is, how do we sell it? And that involves distribution. Are you embracing new distribution capabilities with sending those offers through those standards, or are you still using traditional? I'm guessing there's a mixture of both in a lot of case, because the tech providers are also on similar journeys, and sometimes you have to satisfy both.
Then you get into, once I've sold the offer, how do I service it? So if there's changes, if there's refunds in play, you want to move towards 100 percent automation. So you're possibly on that journey as well, and there's a lot that goes on with that. We've seen a lot of this happen over the last couple of years this really was in the forefront of some of the airlines’ challenges.
And then lastly, how do we settle the funds? So are you moving away from a rigid ticket-based kind of application and moving towards really combining and aligning that digital and retailing? Sending that offer, delivering that offer through NDC all the way through to settlement, and a seamless process that simplifies your ecosystem?
So, all very exciting stuff. I think you can select one or many of these, and for those of you that select all of them, you get bonus points in the game.
Yeah, I think so. There's a lot to take in here and there's a lot to explore. There is a lot going on right now, I think we all know that. I think we are just trying to get to know you a bit more, what is your focus?
So with that, we will move on to the last question here.
So going back to our original question, what topic is at the top of your game plan for Elevate 2021? What are you so excited about? What are you so looking forward to? We have a lot to explore. We've got dynamic offers and Dual RBD, workflow automation and Architect, Next Generation Storefront, corporate contracts, distribution, and NDC Exchange, payments, financing, and settlement, sustainability which is a first at Elevate, super excited about that. Diversity, equity, and inclusion, also a first at Elevate. And then we have emerging technologies and the cloud. So there's a lot to look forward to and we want to know what are you most excited about? Let us know, give us a holler.
And if you've selected Next Generation Storefront, you are in for a treat because that's coming up next. We're so excited to welcome two of our own, Seth and Sophie, who will share their take on the Next Generation Storefront updates, a lot going on. So it is NGS: The level up we have all been waiting for, looking for, and excited about.
And don't forget, we really appreciate hearing from you, what you like and what you love about this conference. Please take the session survey. You'll find it in that little survey icon on the right side of your screen or on the top if you're on mobile. And we also have a conference survey, so at the end, you can let us know, give us all your feedback because this, after all, is for you. We are here to support the airline industry, especially you, and enjoy the conference. We're ready to bring our game.
That's right. Enjoy the conference, everyone.
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