GDSs Need to Adapt and Prepare for Distribution 2.0
GDSs Owe It to Their Subscribers and Shareholders
Toronto, 22 December 2010: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) stated today that the decision by a U.S. court to lift a restraining order which now allows American Airlines to remove content from Travelport's Orbitz online travel agency is further proof that the distribution technology landscape is soon to change forever.
ARTA Canada emphasized its earlier position and, in part, agreed with ACTA that inevitable change is underway which will have significant ramifications on the industry and the travel agency distribution channel. However, unlike ACTA's "sky is falling" doomsday scenario, ARTA Canada is convinced that AA's plans have a pivotal role not only for all GDSs, but for all travel agencies as well.
According to news reports, Judge Martin Agran referred to a statement made by Kurt Ekert, Chief Commercial Officer of Travelport GDS, about Travelport’s fears. The judge said Ekert stated in court: "If American is successful in its actions here, I believe the customer migration away from Travelport to American’s direct connect or other solutions will be massive." However, Judge Agran did not accept Ekert’s argument, noting that Ekert hadn’t been able to point to any travel agencies which were leaving Galileo or Worldspan to switch to AA Direct Connect.
In fact, ACTA and others keep missing the point that the AA Direct Connect program is not targeted at typical travel agencies, but rather at large scale distributors, like GDSs and mega-online travel agencies, where cost savings, new functionality, customization, and other benefits are reasonable expectations of any major content provider.
Furthermore, Travelport seemed to have no issue in allowing Southwest Airlines to use its own version of direct connect to deliver content to Travelport and its GDS subscribers. Why then should AA be deprived of similar cost effective connectivity?
It is ARTA Canada's continued view that AA has been unfairly tarnished by the "fee (surcharge) war" which clearly began when Travelport raised AA booking fees and AA responded by partially recovering same from Travelport's agency subscribers. Even more unfair was Travelport's unilateral decision to manipulate fare displays for AA and force the surcharge on consumers at the time of travel purchase.
The inequities of this entire dispute are put in simple, layman's language by the Open AXIS Group of airlines' video comparing the introduction of new travel technology to the introduction of a new type of gourmet cookie, and it is very much worth watching (less than 5 minutes - speakers required).
Distribution 2.0, closing the gap between 30 year old green screen technology and new web-based platforms to sell enhanced, customized, travel offerings, is not just speculation or a fad; it is here to stay. GDSs are being asked to move beyond limited and restrictive legacy displays and to connect, much more cost effectively, to the fast emerging, new world of travel supplier offerings which will not only benefit the GDSs (and their shareholders), but the GDSs' agency subscribers as well.
It's not just a Star Trek Borg which can articulate the obvious, apt conclusion: "Resistance is futile".
About ARTA Canada
ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.
ARTA Canada is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations. For complete details about ARTA Canada's new $99 membership campaign or to join ARTA Canada, including secure payment on our web site, please visit www.artacanada.ca/join.