The Lufthansa Group airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines) have extended their direct connections, successfully positioning their current distribution strategy in the market.
“The most significant factor of our strategy is a progressive presentation of our high-quality products in the B2B distribution channels, which now includes considerably more information,” said Jens Bischof, Executive Vice President Sales and Chief Commercial Officer Hub Frankfurt , today at the world’s largest travel fair, the ITB in Berlin. Since the strategic realignment, which began in June 2015, the Lufthansa Group has achieved more significant successes. Bischof added: “Through our initiative we have achieved more substantial progress with our B2B direct connections in the last six months that in the past five years.”
The following B2B distribution partners are already using direct booking interfaces (Direct Connect) to the Lufthansa Group for ticket sales as an alternative to the existing booking channels:
- In addition to Germany’s largest ticket wholesaler (Consolidator), AERTiCKET, FTI-Ticketshop (subsidiary of the FTI Group) has now also put into operation their direct connection to the Lufthansa Group.
- The business travel agency chain Lufthansa City Center is currently in its test phase with direct connection. The connection to the first agencies is planned for the end of March. An extension of around 300 offices is planned for the entire Lufthansa City Center Franchise system.
- Furthermore, Lufthansa Group and Hogg Robinson Group are working jointly on a Direct Connect Solution for both their Global Travel Management Division (HRG) and Technology Division (Fraedom).
- In the tour operator segment, new partnerships are also being formed. L’TUR uses its own direct connection for the creation of travel packages with flights from the Lufthansa Group for both its local and online business.
- Vtours, one of the leading, dynamic tour operators in German-speaking countries, has already put its direct connection to the Lufthansa Group into operation.
- TUI has confirmed its plans for the alternative distribution channel Direct Connect, and is preparing for the acquisition of flights with Lufthansa via a direct connection.
The Lufthansa Group is also in talks about possible solutions with many major companies, travel agents and tour operators. With Thomas Cook, for example, there is a constructive exchange taking place regarding the possibility of a direct connection.
The industry partners are already being supported by 14 different technology providers, which are listed on a website set up for this purpose: www.lufthansagroup-directconnect.com/de/. More providers will soon be added to the list.
Significant progress is also being made in the business travel market, with the development of Direct Connect Solutions with international companies. International corporations such asAndritz and ArcelorMittal have stated that they would actively promote a direct connection to the Lufthansa Group systems. A possible separate connection is also being discussed withBayer.
Business travellers who prefer to make their bookings via the distribution portal www.LH.com, can now transfer their booking information into their own billing systems using the software of the American IT providers Traxo.
The B2C partnership commenced in November last year with Google Flights in the USA was very successful, which is why the pilot project was expanded (since 7 March) to include the countries France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland as well as Canada in North America. The ‘Book on Google’ function enables the customer to make his Lufthansa booking within Google user experience. This integrated approach allows customers to benefit from all options and services available at LH.com.
Just in time for ITB in Berlin was the launch of a pilot project with a direct connection to a major German tour operator, based on the new IATA data standard ‘New Distribution Capability’ (NDC) being put into action for the first time. In the first quarter of 2016, SWISS also launched a NDC pilot project in cooperation with the technology provider Datalex. The NDC Standard was developed by IATA with the support of the Lufthansa Group and many other industry partners in order to provide considerably more product information and available options at the time of booking and in B2B sales by means of a more efficient data format.
“We have thus created the essential building blocks for the basis of our distribution strategy through our cooperation with technology providers, through the direct connections to important B2B partners and with the new data standard NDC” Bischof concluded.
“The Lufthansa Group is implementing a number of further Direct Connect projects with key partners, we are working on further IT solutions and developing additional options designed to facilitate a direct connection to the Lufthansa Group. We will continue along this path together.”