All aboard for merchandising’s next act in North America

Scott Alvis

Chief Marketing Officer, Amadeus North America

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Merchandising, personalization, retailing and unbundling have been center stage in the industry for the past few years.

North American airlines are offering their travelers more choice through the implementation of ancillary services and fare families, creating options tailored to their price sensitivity, seating predilection, meal preference, baggage needs and more. Behind the scenes, many airlines in the region are integrating more sophisticated and granular pricing capabilities for ancillary services, taking personalization one step further.

This move by airlines to differentiate their offer on their website based on customer preferences presents the risk that travel professionals will be left without access to critical information and options needed to provide their customers the best service and offer. That is why airline merchandising is a strategic priority at Amadeus and why we continue to invest in its rapid evolution.

Over 100 airlines have signed-up globally to distribute ancillary services through Amadeus with more than 35 airlines including United Airlines, Delta Airlines and Spirit, actively distributing in North America today. Fare Families are also rapidly picking up momentum. In March, American Airlines and WestJet joined major NORAM carriers Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, JetBlue, and many others providing Fare Families to Amadeus subscribers.

Merchandising opportunities

OTAs, like Expedia and Fareportal, have also spotted the airline merchandising opportunity and are jumping on it to deliver more value to their customers, while increasing their own revenues. This snowball effect between airlines and OTAs has enabled merchandising to really take off at Amadeus in 2015 with ancillary services sales increasing 95% globally and threefold in North America alone.

Amadeus continues to work closely with both our airline and travel agency partners to ensure that as ancillary services, fare families and merchandising evolve we meet both the airline’s need for differentiation and the agency’s need for a standardized process. The latter means efficiency gains for agents as they provide end-to-end travel arrangements with more choice to their travelers within their current cryptic and graphical booking flows.

Our main aim

As merchandising gathers momentum in the indirect channel, North America’s major airlines are already setting the scene for the second act. Through XML, these airlines aim to deliver an enhanced shopping experience to travelers via the travel agency channel by personalizing offers that have been dynamically priced and packaged. Amadeus has already delivered major breakthroughs in these areas and is ready to continue supporting airlines and travel agents as merchandising evolves.

What do you think will be the next act in North America travel retailing?


North America, Merchandising