In the latest episode of the ARC TravelConnect Virtual Series, ARC President and CEO Lauri Reishus was joined by Dave Harvey, Vice President of Southwest Business, for an in-depth look at how Southwest responded to the challenges of 2020 and how their distribution strategy has evolved over the past several years. In their discussion, Harvey details trends Southwest is seeing as the airline opens new 2021 routes and talks about how their Sabre agreement came together at the end of last year.

Use the links to skip ahead to specific parts of their discussion or watch the full video below.

  • 1:07Harvey reflects on Southwest Business’s distribution strategy and how their goals shifted heading into 2020 after looking at their shortcomings and determining a better market approach based on customer feedback.

  • 3:44The intention to pivot the airline’s business distribution strategy to focus on becoming industry standard, along with integration with Amadeus and Travelport.

  • 4:50Harvey discusses Southwest’s initial response to COVID-19 and the “Southwest Promise” to focus on employee retention and maintaining service.

  • 9:07What current booking trends Southwest is seeing, particularly recovery in leisure-focused destinations like Colorado and Florida and looking ahead to corporate campuses opening back up.

  • 11:08Details on expanding the Southwest Business sales team to better service for GDS and other channel investments.

  • 12:10Harvey details how Southwest used the downturn in travel to reach an agreement with Sabre at the end of 2020, praising the flexibility of the Southwest technology team.

  • 14:51 Southwest Business implement with Sabre will be completed by Labor Day 2021.

  • 15:57 – Other strategies to further engage with TMC community, get content and become end-to-end industry standard, including creating a TMC relations team in 2019.

  • 17:31Harvey talks about what Southwest is doing to succeed outside of recovery, including opening 17 new routes over 2021 and further gaining a foothold in heavy business markets like Chicago, Houston and in Florida as revenue picks up.

  • 21:05The Southwest Business approach to omnichannel retailing, launching the corporate traveler mobile app to provide easier access to self-service.

  • 23:10 Removing barriers and frictions to retailing solutions, focusing on traveler needs, and functionality management solutions.

  • 24:45Harvey details his 20+ year history at Southwest, watching the airline’s exponential growth in that time and what he admires about Southwest’s values and culture.