Thursday, March 05, 2009

Full Content





Dennis Schaal, technology editor for Travel Weekly has written some very insightful articles regarding the lack of full content in the GDS (despite the full content agreement signed in 2005) and more recently the termination of the agreement between Farelogix and Sabre. (links requires a subscription). This is a complex problem that is both an issue of technology and business strategy. From the travel agent perspective full content is essential particularly given the transparency of fares triggered by the Web. With the economic conditions worsening suppliers will continue to put downward pressure on segment fees and implement all possible opportunities for ancillary revenue. The GDS are working hard to add capabilities to accommodate new airline add-0n fees as well as continuing to move key processes off the mainframe on to more modern technology. The question is whether these initiatives are moving fast enough and whether 3rd party providers such as Farelogix are a viable alternative. Unlike the other so called "GNEs" (GDS New Entrants), Farelogix never positioned itself as a replacement for the GDS but instead as a new aggregation layer needed in a multi-source world. In that role they have been successful working with major airlines such as American and Emirates. Though understandable from a competitive viewpoint, Sabre's termination of the Farelogix is a bit short sighted. Now that Travelport has embraced a multi-source front-end (developed by G2 Switchworks) the concept of multi-source content will be permanently ingrained as a competitive advantage. I have no doubt the management of Sabre is well aware of this and that their current solution with Agentware (private labeled as NetCheck) is most likely a temporary fix to meet this multi-source reality. Unfortunately with economic pressure on corporate accounts the use of alternative LCCs will likely increase and legacy carriers will continue to implement strategies to drive business directly to their Website. Web-based tools such as Agentware have become a common way for agents to sell inventory not in the GDS, but end up causing additional steps that decrease productivity. The travel industry needs to continue to push the GDS to provide more flexible integrated tools. Projects such as Farelogix's open source POS Hawkeye should be embraced by the industry so we can move beyond issues of bypass and instead have all agents be able to embrace an integrated multi-source point of sale.

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