Our retailing foundation is set: Robert Albert transitions from full-time role
I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on from my full-time role, after guiding Routehappy for the past decade since its founding.
Earlier in my career at the intersection of travel technology and flight shopping, some things started to bother me: the business model animosity between airlines and distributors, antiquated systems and tools, how hard it was to find information about flights, and the fact that airlines didn’t have a good system to provide that information. With both nerves and excitement, I left the security of a corporate career to embark on a startup journey. Routehappy seemed really obvious to me, but when I described it, people told me it already existed (it didn’t) or that it was a bad idea because people only care about price (they don't). Fortunately, enough people thought it was a great idea to keep me and our team motivated.
The first thing you get asked after arriving from a flight is always the same: How was your flight? No one ever asks how much your ticket cost. The reality is that we all care about different things when we fly. But there are also some universal truths: we like to feel safe, secure, comfortable, and happy, and we like to spend our money wisely. Now more than ever, our industry is on the right path to transformation from commodity to retail, for industry health, business success, and to satisfy customers who demand modern products, choice, and now health safety measures.
At Routehappy, we endeavored to create rich content for the common good of the industry. The challenge at times seemed unfathomably hard to overcome. But after many years of hard work, determination, and collaboration, I’m incredibly proud that we came together to solve a very difficult problem, creating world-class, industry standard airline rich content that will be an essential component of retailing in flight shopping for a long time to come. It has been an extraordinary team effort across the amazing Routehappy team, investors, airlines, sales channels, GDSs, NDC providers, IATA, industry thought leaders, and ATPCO.
The COVID-19 storm just reinforces the point that airlines need and deserve an efficient and effective way to create and distribute important content at any given moment, sometimes with only a moment’s notice, to every sales channel. Our Reassurance UPAs and resulting efforts to now expand UPAs as flexible, modular messaging demonstrates ATPCO’s ongoing commitment to fully realize the vision that guided Routehappy.
Since ATPCO acquired Routehappy in early 2018, we’ve been developing Routehappy Rich Content at full industry scale. I decided that it would be a good time for me to take a break at the decade-mark, so I’ve been focused on making sure that the foundation of Routehappy Rich Content and retailing within ATPCO is solid. I’m leaving my full-time role at ATPCO to recharge and explore interests and passions that I’ve had to put on hold, including spending time in nature and working on social justice causes. I’m confident that the stewardship of Routehappy Rich Content and related innovative thinking is in capable hands with ATPCO and across our industry. I’ll be keeping my door open as a Senior Advisor & Consultant to ATPCO.
I believe the Routehappy journey can be instructive to us all. Routehappy ultimately worked because it made sense. Powerful change is possible with determination and cooperation. Our industry deserves better technology. We deserve a more aligned business model. We will weather the current storm in our industry and the world. It is possible to create common good.
I’m grateful to you for putting your trust in me these past ten years to bring Routehappy to life. Thank you to all throughout the industry who have been a part of this journey. I hope you agree that, together, we’ve made a positive and lasting impact. It might not feel like it at the moment, but there’s so much more happy to come.