• Stéphane Pingaud

New kid on the block.

This is how IATA introduced us at their World Passenger Symposium conference in Barcelona this week, as we were getting ready to jump on stage and present flyiin as part of their Distribution and Payment track.

The concept of “kid” might be premature as we have yet to ship the first, beta version of our marketplace for air travel. So I guess “baby on the block” would be more appropriate.

Since we thought that those of you who didn’t have the chance to attend the conference, might be interested in hearing what we had to say about our experience so far as a new online travel company that is trying to make its own way into a crowded and competitive market.

How as our journey been like so far?

To the question about how our journey had been so far, we summarised it with three words: long, sometimes, frustrating, nevertheless exhilarating.

Long because:

  1. First, putting the right co-founding team in place, i.e. one with a complementary skill set, a total alignment on the vision, and the same level of resilience often requires several attempts;

  2. Convincing people, and more specifically investors, to join such a bold and ambitious journey takes time, lots of it;

  3. And finally, getting access to airline APIs that support our user-centric flight search and booking flow can also be a lengthy process.

We knew it would take time to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together. Still, when everyone to whom you’ve exposed your vision and proof-of-concept says: “it’s make so much sense”, you wish you could move much faster and bring your product online with a snap of a finger. And this can be frustrating.

This said, this journey has been, and will continue to be, exhilarating and rewarding. Every week brings its loads of small steps and achievements, all of which are very tangible. A new connection to an airline API, a new mention in the press or a new design sprint etc. are clear and welcome indicators that things are moving… and in the right direction.

How do we feel about airline APIs?

Because WPS gathered people who have a joint interest in the latest developments in airline distribution, we took advantage of our chat to also share our views on the current state of airline APIs, most of which are based on IATA’s latest distribution standard, NDC.

Having got his hands dirty with a good number of those APIs during the past fourteen months, our CTO Dániel Vámosi was best positioned to address this topic. His conclusion was crystal clear: at this stage, the bulk of the airlines’ efforts with regards to their API is to ensure that they conform to NDC, from a format perspective.

They have yet to go in-depth through their existing distribution processes and evaluate how to best make their flights, ancillary services and other relevant content available through their API in a user-centric manner. That means making it very easy for consumers to search – and compare – flight options and costs, inclusive of all the services that are important to them.

But, these API are improving. Helped by the latest version of NDC (17.2), airlines and their API partners are getting better and better at understanding what needs to be done in order to facilitate sales of additional services through their API, whether those are included in a fare bundle, or not. And that’s great news because it means that new digital channels like flyiin finally get the “content flexibility” required to re-think in-depth the way we search and book air travel online.

Thank you, IATA.

A final note to my friends at IATA and most specifically the NDC team: thanks so much for giving us a chance to present flyiin to such a remarkable and knowledgeable audience. We hope everyone found it valuable.

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