Farelogix uncoupled its merchandising engine from its direct connect technology, enabling airlines to use it across multiple sales channels, including travel agencies.
With the uncoupling, airlines will be able to use the Farelogix system to distribute customized offers to travel agency subscribers through the GDSs. Airlines also will be able to distribute the offers via their websites, kiosks and call centers.
The Faring & Merchandising System, called FMS2, previously was available only through airline direct connections. It consists of two solutions: an intuitive graphical user interface for product and business rule configuration, and a pricing engine capable of delivering offers priced in dollars, points or mileage-based currency.
Connecting disparate systems
Jim Davidson, chief executive officer of Farelogix, said airlines want to take merchandising well beyond checked-bag fees and preferred seats.
For example, he said, “an airline can have a rule that says that when a customer with executive platinum or gold status buys an aisle or middle seat on an off-peak flight, you can sell him the adjacent middle seat at half price.” FMS2 makes it easier to connect with the disparate systems required to achieve such a transaction, such as the frequent flier database and inventory and departure control systems, he said.
“You have to interrogate the systems to ensure that you make this offer only to platinum or gold fliers and to ensure that the seat inventory is available,” he added.
FMS2 also includes full integration with the ATPCO Baggage Calculator to help airlines and agencies remain in compliance with the complex baggage rules now in effect for interline journeys.
Facilitating all channels
Farelogix took the uncoupling step because it became clear that airlines would want to distribute customized offers through all their channels. This includes agencies that may wish to work through the GDSs, rather than direct connections, or through Sprk, Farelogix’ own agency front end, Davidson said.
“It’s absurd to think that airlines won’t want to distribute through this [agency] channel,” he said.
But airlines are going to invest in only one engine for all their channels, he said.
Coming to terms
The commercial terms still have to be worked out between the airlines and the GDS companies, he said.
While commercial arrangements between airlines and GDSs have occasionally proved to be sticking points, Davidson believes that customers – both agency customers and end users – ultimately will drive the relationship.
In technical terms, he said “the airline has an API [application programming interface] that it exposes to the GDS. The GDS takes it and interacts with it.”
An example of that arrangement exists between Air Canada and Travelport, he noted. Air Canada has exposed its AC2u API to the GDS company to provide access to its merchandising efforts.
New Farelogix division
Farelogix also created a new Merchandising Solutions Group that is dedicated exclusively to FMS2 and airline merchandising.
It is headed by Michael Zumdieck, vice president of merchandising solutions, who previously was a consultant at Amadeus Global Travel and Amadeus North America. Davidson was at one time chief executive officer of Amadeus North America.