Although American Airline’s Direct Connect was initially aimed at the corporate market, new adopters tend to be coming from the leisure sector.
In the latest development, two Brazilian travel technology firms have linked with American via Direct Connect, according to the airline. The XML connection will provide customers of the two companies with access to American’s full content, including ancillary products and services.
The Brazilian companies are Wooba, a developer of technology solutions and systems for the Brazilian tourism industry, including consolidators, tour operators, travel agencies and corporate online travel companies; and ArgoIT, which specializes in travel management systems and event management technology.
In recent weeks, American announced that Tourico Holidays, a vacation wholesaler, and BookIt.com, an online agency that sells packages to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America, also have begun using Direct Connect.
Initial focus on corporate market
When American first launched its Direct Connect strategy, its distribution team focused heavily on the corporate market, fanning out to major and regional travel management companies to explain the concept. It said only those TMCs that used Direct Connect would have access to its ancillary products.
But aside from a few press releases touting the willingness of TMCs like American Express and HRG Worldwide to “explore” the use of Direct Connect, it has had little uptake in the corporate market.
Adopted by leisure customers
Its first major customer was Priceline.com, and three out of the four latest companies to adopt it have a leisure focus.
But American said it has not shifted its strategy
“Direct Connect is for agencies of all types, sizes and geographies,” the company said in an e-mail response to a query. “There has not been a shift toward leisure agencies.”
Slow use of EMD
American also said that in May, a Wooba client issued the first electronic miscellaneous document (EMD) by a travel agency in Latin America. The client used American’s Direct Connect technology to issue the EMD.
The EMD facilitates paperless fulfillment of airlines’ optional services, but it, too, is slow to get off the ground. ARC confirmed that only four EMDs have been issued in the U.S. since the technology became available nine months ago.