ATPCO, the airline-owned corporation that is the world's
largest collector and distributor of fare data, has acquired airline
merchandising content platform Routehappy.
The companies did not disclose the purchase price.
New York-based Routehappy is an industry leader in
supporting rich flight-shopping content displays, including the placement of
product photographs, on airline distribution channels. Founded in 2011, the
company counts Expedia, Google, Sabre and United among its 65 customers.
The addition of Routehappy fills a void for ATPCO, CEO Rolf
Purzer said in an interview.
"We have a gap in our content and that gap is rich
media content, and Routehappy will provide that content," he said.
The acquisition won't change ATPCO's business model
overnight. Routehappy will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary, while ATPCO
will maintain its focus of distributing fares, fare rules and other airline
products, primarily to the GDSs. But, Purzer and Routehappy CEO Bob Albert said
that in time, ATPCO will begin integrating Routehappy's display content.
"Practically, it's not all going to be integrated
within one magic pipe," Albert said.
Travel technology analyst Henry Harteveldt said the
acquisition could help ATPCO evolve into a merchandising hub as airlines focus
more on selling themselves as a differentiated product rather than merely as a
purveyor of airfare.
"This will eventually allow ATPCO to play a
merchandising role as airlines go into an NDC world of rich product displays,"
he said, referring to IATA's New Distribution Capability, the XML-based
messaging standard designed to enable airlines to more easily sell a wide suite
of ancillary products and bundled fares across their gamut of distribution
Harteveldt said that while changes to what ATPCO can provide
to GDSs won't be immediate, they might not be that far off.
"I don't expect that on Feb. 2, travel agents will
start seeing this content, but it is very possible within half a year or so that
some aspects of the combined options start showing up in the GDSs," he
Albert said that one thing that will change immediately as a
result of the ATPCO/Routehappy deal is that Routehappy will gain a new level of
credibility and trust within the airline distribution world.
"Overnight, the industry becomes aware that Routehappy
has become the industry standard for airline rich content," he said.
Correction: ATPCO's CEO is Rolf Purzer. His name was misspelled in a previous version of this report.