German start-up flyiin has added Lufthansa to the list of airlines that will pilot its next-generation air shopping technology which is says will leave OTAs and metasearch sites in its trail.
Since July last year the Berlin-based firm has developed a new platform bypassing Global Distribution Systems linking direct to airlines through Iata’s New Distribution Capability standard.
Along with Lufthansa, which controversially slapped a €16 GDS fee on bookings in 2015, Flyiin is working in Germany with the Condor group, Vueling, Iberia, and Swiss.
It is poised to enter an 18-month beta phase in May or June as it hopes to conclude a €2 million in seed funding round within the next two to four months.
Stephane Pingaud, chief executive of Flyiin, who previously ran airline distribution for GDS Amadeus, said the technology finds the cheapest end price for customers’ request including all ancillaries and options.
“We aspire to bring online search innovation to flight search that will eventually replace OTAs and metasearch as travellers’ preferred way of searching for flights,” he said.
“We believe travellers are not happy with the tools that are out there today. First and foremost they cannot see the entire offer that each airline has and secondly they cannot see the final price.
“Also, they may not end up booking direct with the airline, which can be a problem when there is disruption.
“This product is unique because instead of building on top of GDS services we have built a platform behind what the customer sees which connects with airlines’ APIs.”
A demo of the interface allows shown to Travolution set out how the user selects where they want to fly from and to, how many people in the group and how many bags they want to check in.
When the search button is hit the technology interrogates the airline’s systems and calculates with the cheapest option to meet those requirements.
This could be an existing fare family the airline offers that includes the required bags, or adding the cost of bags to the base fare, whichever is cheapest.
As the technology evolves it will allow customers to select more options and services and bring in relevant rich content from airlines to show and describe to customers the product.
Currently only Condor has a content management system geared up to provide this but more airlines are expected to upgrade their systems to allow this content to be provided on request.
Pingaud said although the technology has been developed on the new NDC standard different versions are being adopted by airlines at different speeds and in different ways.
So he said the complexity of the Flyiin technology is that it has to translate API request and response messages to and from airlines so they can be understood as a single digital language.
“No meta can do that,” said Pingaud. “In the future we will be able to cover all services like lounge access so that all costs will be included in the final price.”
Once a fare has been selected it can be booked and confirmation is received without leaving the Flyiin environment, but as though the customer has booked direct with the airline.
The Flyiin beta will focus on the German market initially and Pingaud said he expects to attract unmanaged business travellers and leisure travellers wanting information on airline services.
He said he expects a new direct to consumer business model will be worked out with the airlines during the beta based on Flyiin’s ability to drive higher yields while cutting out GDS costs.
Pingaud said he expects GDSs and rival OATs and metasearch sites will have to react by building or buying their own technology to do what Flyiin can do.
“I have a strong belief in vertical champions in the way I see travel distribution evolving. You will have these vertical champions based on the nature of the product.
“So it could be The Trainline for rail, Booking.com for hotels and Flyiin for flights.
“If you are an independent traveller and want to do the whole planning based on trusted brands a travel aggregator of the future will connect by API to these vertical champions.
“That may be Expedia, it may be ‘holidaypackages.com’, but instead of connecting directly to all different suppliers they will connect to these vertical champions.”
To date Flyiin has been privately funded and advised by former Air Canada chief executive Montie Brewer.