The Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT) has reinforced its commitment to providing customers with the widest choice of airfares by increasing its investment in travel technology business TP Connects (TPC).
The company has agreed to increase its equity interest from 22.5% to 70% in the Dubai-based software as a service (SaaS) business, which has been at the forefront of ongoing changes to traditional distribution models.
FLT initially invested in TPC in February 2020 with a view to supercharging the development of TPC’s innovative technology platform, which aims to shape the future of travel distribution by aggregating content from multiple sources such as Global distribution systems (GDSs), direct feeds from low-cost carriers (LCCs), emerging supplier-direct channels and other third party NDC aggregators.
TPC has a proven track record in NDC and provides a centralised NDC Gateway which services customers in both the aviation and travel agency sectors. The business offers travel agents a range of solutions to access aggregated air content via the TPC universal API (application programming interface), which can be directly integrated into any user interface, or via agency business-to-business (B2B) platforms such as the NDC marketplace portal.
Chris Galanty, Global CEO of Flight Centre Corporate believes FLT’s increased stake in TP Connects firmly positions the company’s corporate businesses at the forefront of the developments that are taking place in the distribution landscape.
“As airlines continue to disrupt the way in which they distribute their content, we recognise the need to be able to offer a seamless and integrated experience for our clients that gathers the broadest range of relevant content through all available channels,” said Mr Galanty.
“By strengthening our investment and deepening our alliance with TP Connects, we are able to leverage their expertise and NDC-enabled technology to enhance our ability to service our corporate customers and meet their travel programme aims both in terms of options and value.
“In this dynamic environment, it’s critical that we continuously evolve innovative solutions that complement our GDS partnerships and keep us a step ahead from our competitors now and in the future – and our collaboration with TP Connects does just that.”
In utilising TPC technology, the company’s corporate customers automatically benefit from the widest choice of global content, access to best available rates as well as exclusive private fares – all fully supported by expert travel consultants.
TPC was established in 2012 by Rajendran Vellapalath and Praveen Kumar, both of whom maintain an involvement in the business and will become part of the new TPC board. FLT’s involvement in TPC allowed the company to become the first global travel management company to receive International Air Transport Association (IATA) Level 4 certification, the highest level available at the time (achieved in 2020).
“FLT’s investment comes at an important time, given the rapid changes that are taking place in the distribution of air content and with the development of the Airline Retailing Maturity Index, which IATA is now pioneering,” Mr Vellapalath said, “This is one of the biggest industry disruptions in recent years, with NDC and IATA’s new ONE Order customer record system at its core.
“The strong relationship between TPC and FLT will ensure that both companies remain at the forefront of this ongoing change and play a lead role in the future evolution of distribution.”
Alongside TPC, FLT’s corporate businesses continue to leverage its significant technology investments to improve customer experience and meet the needs of business travellers in the pandemic era. These include the acquisitions of booking technology specialist WhereTo, mobile chatbot platform Sam, and most recently, the Shep browser extension tool.
“We are proud of our reputation as a leader in the tech travel space, borne through a strategy of continuous development and complementary investment and acquisition. By integrating innovative solutions such as TP Connects into our already powerful platform capabilities, we are better able to support our corporate clients and propel their businesses forward in this changed world,” added Galanty.