Southwest Airlines at long last will provide content and
full booking capabilities in global distribution systems via agreements with
Travelport and Amadeus. They expect content to be ready for bookings by
The agreements will bring "the highest level of
participation" within Travelport and Amadeus, according to Southwest, and
will enable buyers and agents to book, change, cancel and modify reservations
through the GDSs. Southwest also is partnering with ARC to
implement processes for reporting and settling tickets booked through those
channels. Southwest and ARC already have been working on the project for nearly
a year, said ARC vice president of airline retailing and settlement Chuck Fischer.
"They haven't been the easiest airline when it comes to
access to content, with a very 'come to me direct' strategy, and they're
willing to be easier to do business with," he said. "It's access to
content for the corporate buyers and agencies that's streamlined right into
Southwest president Tom Nealon said the GDSs are the "third
leg of the stool" in Southwest's distribution strategy for business
travel, the other two being direct channels and the Swabiz booking tool.
Southwest has been investing in both of those other "legs," as well,
including new capabilities added to Swabiz this year and joining ATPCO and SITA's
NDC Exchange platform.
Southwest has rolled all those approaches and its
recently revamped sales team into a newly named Southwest Business umbrella.
"We have a great business product, but we've been
harder to do business with in terms of how you book, transact and settle,"
Nealon said. "The shift away from our [Basic Booking Request] and the
basic approach to an industry-standard GDS is important."
Southwest's move to an Amadeus-based reservations system a
few years ago from what Nealon called "the old cowboy system" was a
big factor in enabling the new strategy.
"We could have [with the old
system] worked very hard for a very long time and spent a lot of money and
never really gotten to a real industry standard, only a kind of variant,"
he said. "We had the opportunity to really go industry-standard GDS with
full participation level with the Amadeus [passenger service system]."
Southwest projects that the GDS presence will bring between
$10 million and $20 million in additional revenue during the second half of
2020, and Nealon said that estimate is likely conservative. "We're going
to bring the Southwest effect into the GDS," Nealon said. "We're
going to compete hard and compete to win."
Could that also include participation in other GDS platforms
down the road? "We're pretty happy with the two we have, and if there are
more interested, we're certainly willing to talk," Nealon said.
Source: Business Travel News