It wasn't so long ago that Robert Albert made the news for selling his company Routehappy to ATPCO. The long journey -- and big bet on metadata for airlines -- paid off. This eventual pay off was most certainly not assured. Bob sat with the Travel is Your Business co-hosts to discuss just how challenging that journey was, and how he managed to stay strong and deliver one of the most important innovations to happen in airline distribution for some time: complete information about amenities, comfort, and other qualities specific to a particular plane and routing.
This is an especially compelling story. Startups get acquired all the time, but it's always refreshing when a founder has a vision that truly seemed impossible. And then manages to push through to deliver a product that really manages to shift a bit of an industry that often seems immovable. It's also a story of a smart acquisition, as this information is now available seamlessly within ATPCO, which sits at the center of much of the airline universe.
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Merchandising content platform for flight shopping…
Robert Albert, CEO of Routehappy (the industry standard for airline rich content, acquired by APTCO) joins John Matson and Nick Vivion in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.
In this episode:
- The most commonly desired amenity in travel: seat, then WiFi
- Selling a singular vision when pitching/building Routehappy
- How it is not actually all about price
- An entire ecommerce category that’s comeditized, we all about the experience from that moment on
- Explaining products and services customers are happier, and the industry does better
- How it was obvious to him that every customer needed this
- Why Albert feels it has felt like spreading a religion, every meeting is positive, but not necessarily a priority all the time
- It is an organic experience, brick by brick building the path forward for the company and the recognition of the need
- How the pace of building the company has helped them build it right, solving a complex problem, and why the company is ready for prime time now and can solve global differentiation problem in flight shopping
- Why GDS’s didn’t solve this prior
- Sales cycles in travel vs. funds for startups
- Massive network effect, explaining the story and getting airlines and distributers to align on the story and potential impact
- How hard Albert and team worked building the company, holding twenty five meetings a week while traveling, making good product decisions that got companies interested
- Originally Routehappy was about consumer flight reviews, then built APIs of data, and operating lean
- Happy and cheap as a product compass
- How Routehappy’s solution was now described as being able to enable the industry with better data, and that resulted in the first serious ways people were paying attention
- Moving from B to C to B to B as a pivot
- Pineapple chunks, and why this Australian treat was the snack, and the meaning
- How Routehappy was recently acquired by ATPCO, software that manages the world’s airfares
- UTA rich context (universal ticket attribute)
- Becoming the “Switzerland of rich content”, how Routehappy can now deliver on the thing they said they were doing for seven years
- Overall vision as the next gen storefront, how it is time to modernize flight shopping, how indirect channels can and should transform, and coming together with the “how”
- The happy empire and the tip of the iceberg
- Albert’s parental inspiration for travel