When we think airlines we think of one of the most regulated and yet fascinating industries out there. The complexities that have been built over the past decades and the layers of legacy processes have often put constraints on airlines’ ability to have to modernize themselves whilst embracing modern retail based techniques.
Optimising revenues becomes a crucial aspect in this industry especially because of factors that are not under airlines control and require fast and effective reactions in order to find the most lucrative intersection between supply and demand. The fluctuation of fuel prices and the vast and geo-distributed nature of the market that airlines attempt to address make this exercise quite complicated at times.
Low cost carriers are usually less constrained due to the fact that they don’t have to deal with the issues caused by interline, codeshare and ticketing processes.
These processes are usually standard among full service carriers partnering together in an alliance with the result that it’s hard to drive changes and innovation that would not affect each other.
Another important aspect in revenue optimisation is the ability airlines wish to have to upsell and cross-sell additional services on top of the traditional air-fare. This is usually not the easiest of capabilities to be built on top of a traditional airline IT infrastructure. The current ticket-centric and process-centric solution that airlines may adopt are few (one or two) and we can therefore say that the market is quite oligopolistic (in some cases monopolistic).
As in all monopolies, the disadvantages for the customers (in this case, airlines) are the following:
IATA, the world trading association of airlines, have come up with a number of standards to enable airlines and vendors to overcome the above issues in the last few years.
NDC and One Order are much more than messaging standard definitions, as it might seem at first. In fact, they provide a way to re-shape an airline’s architecture at their core and, as a result, this should also allow more IT vendors to come into the market and try to ‘break’ the monopoly.
Even though the latter is not necessarily the most advertised of the objectives, it became clear to SAP that the one provided by IATA was the only way through such a difficult market.
Portaltech Reply has been helping SAP in their attempt of breaking into the industry by taking part in multiple IATA conferences and round tables but especially with the achievement of the NDC Certification and One Order Certification over the course of 2018 and 2019.
Since 2015, Portaltech Reply have been leading and driving innovation through the SAP Commerce Travel Accelerator built on behalf of SAP. This has given Reply a chance to step into the market, gaining knowledge and be able to influence and take part in digital transformation across smaller and larger airlines as well as groups. So far, 5 major upgrades of the Travel Accelerator have been released, and the 6th is expected in few weeks.
The SAP Commerce Travel Accelerator is the extension of SAP Commerce that Portaltech Reply have built for SAP to enable one of the retail leaders commerce platforms to sell and merchandise airline offerings. To add to this, the aim of the Travel Accelerator has always been to address even more core airlines’ processes and problems, with the ambition to replace internet booking engines and to provide the single entry multi-channel platform for distribution for direct and indirect traffic.
If NDC was mainly focused around the building and distribution of airline offerings and is now quite mature (version 18.2 is already been released), One Order Standard is instead centred on order management, tracking and delivering of the services to the customer.
Portaltech has worked closely with SAP to define the “One Order” strategy with three main goals:
All three objectives above were achieved in a nice sequence over the course of the last 14 months. At the beginning of 2018, the One Order Pilot was released and the results were used to help IATA shape the standard and the process. Portaltech Reply has provided the design and the implementation of the pilot, implementing a number of use cases, one of which being a Departure Control System integrated with the commerce platform adopting the standard.
The results of the pilot and the functionalities built were also hardened and embedded into the travel accelerator v6 as a standard capability of the product making SAP Commerce the first one order certified platform in the world.