< PrevNext > David Harvey, Southwest Airlines VP of Southwest Business Distribution Democratizer By Michael B. Baker / December 13, 2019 / Contact Reporter Share Southwest Airlines always has been something of a maverick among U.S. carriers when it comes to distribution strategy, which made its announcement of a fairly standard industry practice this year seem downright radical.In August, Southwest revealed it had reached agreements with both Travelport and Amadeus to provide content to their global distribution systems with "the highest level of participation" by the middle of next year. That will for the first time enable buyers and agents to book, change, cancel and modify reservations through the GDSs, and Southwest also is working with Airlines Reporting Corp. to implement processes for reporting and settling those bookings.It's not a full U-turn in strategy, as Southwest has no intention of targeting leisure travelers through online agencies via the GDS. It was a move designed for the corporate market, and David Harvey, VP of the airline's newly established Southwest Business unit, said it will be a game changer for the carrier's ability to work with corporate accounts.The GDS announcement was just one of several Southwest made this year in its aim to simplify distribution to corporate travelers. It also joined ATPCO's NDC Exchange platform, through which it will connect to TripActions, AmTrav and several other agencies that Harvey said are in its pipeline. In addition, the carrier has been investing in its API for direct connections and this year eliminated the access fee to it.At the same time, Southwest's corporate sales force has been growing under Harvey, with about 70 people added this year, he said. Fifteen months ago, the entire team totaled fewer than 75. In addition, Southwest for the first time this year set up a team dedicated specifically to servicing travel management companies, he said.With all of that in place, Harvey said the stage is set for significant corporate sales growth next year."2019 was about getting the bones in place," Harvey said. "2020 is when we're really unleashed, and the action happens. Get out your popcorn."