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Lesley's Column

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10th October 2016

Content is the key to full service from your booking provider

Once a Blue, Always a Blue – these were the words on Wayne Rooney’s T-shirt, pledging his playing career to Everton after they won the FA Youth Cup in 2002. Well, two years later he joined Manchester United – and he’s not done too badly since.

Some years on, with low-cost airlines charging extra for everything on top of the basic fare, British Airways confirmed their commitment to ‘full service’ on every flight. Last week that changed, with the announcement that they would charge for meals in economy class on domestic and European flights from next year.
Is BA now doing an about turn? Yes, but they’re reacting sensibly to market conditions. There’s not much loyalty in the short haul market these days and the choice of airline is based more on schedule than price or in-flight service.
If you live in Sussex, why travel to Heathrow when another carrier flies from Gatwick to the same destination at a similar fare? Irrespective of whether it’s a low-cost or a full service airline, if the schedule fits the itinerary, then that’s what is booked. Whether your bacon roll is free or not is largely irrelevant on a short flight.
The message to companies with high volumes on short haul routes is to ensure that your booking provider has access to all the relevant content and includes full service airlines, low-cost carriers and rail companies at the first attempt – and not on different pages if you’re booking online.
Rail content is increasingly important as journey times can compete with air, so check that your TMC will offer rail as an alternative. In France, Germany and now Spain, rail is becoming the norm for trips of up to around 400 miles.
Choose your booking provider carefully. Don’t use a B2C site such as Expedia, as they don’t even aggregate content from all airlines on a given route. Most TMCs can but, even then, don’t be convinced that they can fully integrate domestic and European rail into their online booking tools – most can’t.