Amadeus picked up a new customers, Croatia Airlines, for its Affinity Shopper flight-search solution.
And, two additional customers, one in Europe and the other in Asia, will pilot an online travel agency version of the search solution by the end of the year, Amadeus says.
Amadeus was the subject of a lot of buzz in late 2009 when Affinity Shopper, which enables travelers to begin their air search without necessarily having a clear idea of destination, dates or budget, took top honors at PhoCusWright's Travel Innovation Summit.
Lufthansa was the launch partner for Affinity Shopper.
Rudy Daniello, director of product management and distribution for Amadeus globally, says Croatia Airlines has had Affinity Shopper in production for a few months and Finnair is occasionally testing it.
Here's the start page for Affinity Shopper on the Croatia Airlines website:
Lufthansa introduced Affinity Shopper on its websites in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. in late 2009, and Daniello says it's "doing well," but "still in takeoff mode."
It remains to be seen just how much traction this nontraditional way of searching for flights gets with travelers.
Daniello says Affinity Shopper is the airline version of Amadeus Extreme Search and an online travel agency version -- with the brand name still to be determined -- will be rolled out before the end of 2010, with one European OTA and one Asian OTA agreeing to pilot it.
Benoit Janin, Amadeus worldwide vice president of development, pricing and shopping, says introducing an OTA version of Amadeus Extreme Search is "a bigger challenge" for Amadeus because of the more complex computation involved with multiple airlines.
And, a metasarch version of Amadeus Extreme Search is being readied for a 2011 rollout, Daniello says.
"We are following a logical sequence," Daniello adds.
Amadeus considers Extreme Search as an inspirational "pre-shopping stage," and integrates it with "shopping," where precise criteria is known, through its Master Pricer low-fare search and merchandising tool.
By the end of September, Amadeus plans to add to Master Pricer an Amadeus Ancillary Services engine, which would enable airline websites to display ancillary services such as executive lounge access and extra-legroom seats within the shopping flow.
For each flight and fare family, travelers would be able to choose and book desired ancillary services and see a corresponding price display.
Daniello says the ancillary services engine is being introduced as many European airlines are in the process of filing their ancillary services with ATPCO, which is believed to be in the final stages of establishing a standard.
The adoption of the standard by North America airlines is less robust, Daniello says, with some airlines in North America seeking to file their ancillary services with ATPCO and others opting to retain them for their own internal channels.
As the airline industry is bent on developing new merchandising capabilities. Amadeus believes that Master Pricer and its new ancillary services functionality combine "a fully scalable shopping platform" and with "a new massive computation platform," highligfhting how Amadeus has been innovative in adapting to "the fast-evolving demands of the travel industry."
But, as Master Pricer competes with air-shopping and pricing solutions from Everbread, Vayant, ITA Software and Travelport's e-Pricing, Amadeus has plenty of critics, as well.
Says one: "We have already noted a high percentage of failures on Master Pricer and we believe that there will continue to be a higher scale of errors no matter who is generating the result. We have seen that Amadeus internally often retains a cache of an airline's availability and then builds on that cache, its other cache of Master Pricer results. This, in turn, means there will be a cache of cache data."
UPDATE: It turns out the Finnair is not a signed customer for Affinity Shopper, as the original version of this story said, but has occasionally tested the product.