10 Jan 2016
A technology company has created a new information aggregate that allows travel agents to speak directly with airlines, making travel in the Middle East and North Africa more convenient and less costly.
TPConnects – the region’s first online system that connects travel agents directly to airlines using real-time technology – is already operating in the United Arab Emirates with plans to grow throughout the region.
For the first time, a company spokeswoman says, travel agents will be able to see exactly what airline employees have access to in terms of ticket pricing and ancillary charges such as extra leg room, bag checks and in-flight meals. They’ll also be able to message airline employees directly to seek out the best deals.
“Most of the ancillaries on tickets purchased through agents are actually sold via the airline’s website,”Kristine Fernandez, TPConnects director of business development, recently told the Gulf News Journal. “That’s where the most detailed information is for options such as seats with extra legroom, lounge access or expedited boarding. Because agents—including online travel agents—don’t have easy access to this information, it is difficult for agents and online travel agents to help their customers to compare airline offerings beyond the basic schedule and fare.”
This new technology will allow travel agents access to those ancillary options, and the ability to pass that information on to travelers.
“With TPConnects Aggregator platform, passengers will be able to receive up-to-the-minute flight availability, pricing and customer reviews using platforms like TPConnects with the NDC standard,” Fernandez said.
The aggregate technology aims to personalize travel.
TPConnects will allow agents to create personalized special offers to travelers based on demographics, loyalty status and other factors. Travel agents will be able to reach out to airlines directly to inquire about special offers for certain travelers.
“As a result, air travelers will benefit from greater transparency and access to all of an airline’s offerings, and airlines will be able to move beyond the mostly commoditized displays of fares and schedules for the consumers through the travel agent channel and online travel portals,” Fernandez told the Gulf News Journal.
The aggregate also enables agents to connect travel suppliers such as hotels and rental car companies with travelers, as well. TPConnects will be able to find the best deals and purchase other travel necessities, such as insurance or concert tickets, directly from the vendor.
TPConnects says its technology is the first to receive certification from the International Air Transport Association as an information technology vendor and as an aggregator.
When a traveler submits a travel request to an agent using TPConnects, the agent will be able to communicate with all appropriate to find an itinerary that works best for the passenger’s schedule and budget. In the long run, TPConnects says this technology will save travelers time and money.
“As airlines develop bundled and unbundled fares, passengers need to be able to shop and compare the value of these options across airlines,” Fernandez said, “Just as they do when shopping for other consumer goods.”