APEX Insight: United Airlines and Sabre will be the first airline and GDS to use Routehappy Hub. While Routehappy already provides amenity data to Sabre, as well as to companies such as Google, Kayak and Expedia, the Routehappy Hub platform is about empowering an airline to take control of its own marketing destiny.

Routehappy first entered the aviation scene as a sort of Yelp for the jet set, compiling scores for commercial flights based on criteria such as seat pitch, meal, in-flight entertainment (IFE) and Wi-Fi. With Routehappy Hub, the company has pivoted to a business-to-business model, offering its rating system as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) directly to airlines. Teaming up with Sabre, a heavyweight global distribution system (GDS), United Airlines was recently announced as the first airline to use the retooled, Saas Routehappy Hub platform.

Money Isn’t Everything

Airlines work hard to differentiate their in-flight offerings, and all that work can end up junked if an airline’s wow-factors aren’t conveyed to the passenger. With Routehappy Hub, Routehappy is stepping up as a provider of the technology that fully leverages an airline’s passenger experience assets and makes them clear to consumers.

“Neither customers nor airlines benefit from air travel being commoditized,” says Routehappy CEO, Robert Albert. “Customers have less choice that results in less satisfaction and airlines need to solely focus on reducing costs. A healthy industry offers differentiated products and services to customers who buy what they value.” Scott Wilson, United’s vice-president of eCommerce and Merchandising, adds: “The idea is that rich product information will be easily available to our customers so they always know what to expect.”

“The idea is that rich product information will be easily available to our customers so they always know what to expect.” – Scott Wilson, vice-president, eCommerce and Merchandising, United Airlines

Beyond showing amenities to a passenger who’s comparison-shopping, Routehappy Hub will allow United to surface its PaxEx highlights in a tangible way when marketing to repeat customers. United will have full control over how it sells its experience, and it’s already entering its Universal Product Attributes (UPAs) – such as complimentary snacks and lie-flat business-class seats – into the airline’s website ahead of integration with Routehappy.

“Our relationship with the Routehappy Hub is all about how we can make the online shopping experience easier and more rewarding for our customers,” says Wilson. “Routehappy helps showcase some of the things that set us apart from other airlines and the level of targeting available means that we can show the right product features to the right customers at the right time.”

Serious Data Entry for Serious Discoverability

Several other airlines are showing interest in Routehappy Hub. According to Albert, around 12 airlines are actively creating or publishing UPAs, and twice as many more are are either preparing to jump aboard or seriously considering it.

As the trend of expressing the passenger experience in terms of data picks up, soon flyers may find themselves choosing an early-morning flight based solely upon the quality of the coffee served onboard.