Owned by the world’s major airlines, ATPCO blends pricing & retailing data and systems with innovative technology. The company supports airlines to best manage their complex products in the marketplace. The service company’s Enterprise Innovation Architect, David Peart, explains how graph technology in the shape of Neo4j is at the heart of ATPCO’s fare and offer management products and services.
Why being able to offer competitive fares is a priority
By using compelling, rich content, ATPCO’s retailing solutions are setting the standard by which airlines differentiate their products and channel partners create informative, next-generation shopping displays.
But to deliver such services means dealing with immense amounts of intricate information. Information that represents huge value for its users. Getting a competitive price for a plane journey involves a large amount of complex data processing that the traveller just never sees – a large undertaking, and an important one. One of ATPCO’s airline customers estimates that, every day, if you add up all the various markets, flights, seats, and options in what they put in the sky, it’s over 100 billion product permutations.
Modelling of highly complex route/ticketing variables
To achieve maximum transparency and functionality, my team and I knew we needed to interconnect many siloed data sources and applications via a core pricing engine. To get there, ATPCO’s internal R&D team needed a powerful, robust technology to help its customers better utilise their vast data resources.
Finding the perfect basis for such a capable pricing engine was actually something of a lucky accident. We had evaluated NoSQL databases back in 2012, and realised that Neo4j was a natural fit. The graph database provides the data architecture, power, capacity and scale to represent the millions of data relationships we need to model and understand.
A trip from Newcastle, UK to Lexington, Kentucky involves multiple possible routes and prices. But we were able to use graphs to represent different airports as nodes and all the scheduled flights as relationships. This allowed ATPCO to complete this very complex task far more easily and faster than with other tools.
That early route planning experiment, and the opportunity for me to attend the first Neo4j GraphConnect Conference, started a journey that’s led to a special graph-powered pricing engine. We now use Neo4j as the core of at least five of the main data services we now offer, from fare management to air travel tax calculation.
Why a graph-based pricing engine is now at the core of our services
Many ATPCO product teams now use Neo4j to help key airline customers. Our clients more easily report back how the pricing engine helps them deliver a better product more closely aligned with specific market demands.
Our carrier customers also welcome the simplification in analysing travel route and pricing options, which makes it easier and quicker to offer the attractive bundled, discounted options travellers are seeking. And it’s not just the airlines and travellers who are benefitting from the power of graphs. We have a special tech innovation incubator, Bridge Labs. That’s all about opening up our APIs to start-ups, and the pricing engine has already helped one start-up offer an innovative new product to the airline sector.
All in all, graphs have met the needs of our product teams and delighted our customers. It’s performant, scalable, and we expect the technology to continue to help us expose and build new airline data products and services.
ATPCO is the world’s leading provider of pricing and retailing content, tools, and services to airlines, global distribution systems, travel agencies, and technology companies. With a focus on driving innovation, reducing complexity, and delivering network economics to the entire distribution ecosystem, ATPCO continues to develop new standards and technology solutions that are underpinned by its reliable airline pricing data that lies at the foundation of flight shopping. Owned by airlines, ATPCO content and standards ensure industry-wide consistency, including for NDC, Next Generation Strorefront™, and dynamic pricing. With its recent acquisition of Routehappy, its retailing solutions are also setting the standard by which airlines differentiate their products using compelling rich content, and which channel partners are using to create informative, next-gen shopping displays. For additional information, visit atpco.net.