ARTA Canada Asks Travelport for Delay and Dialogue
on GDS Moving Essential Services into Pay-for-Use Only Model
ARTA Canada Schedules Online Conference to Discuss
Travelport Implications with Agenices
Toronto, 12 December 2011: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) expressed grave concerns today that Apollo, Worldspan, and Galileo GDS owner Travelport has imposed significant new financial terms on travel agent subscribers in order to continue use of essential booking and ticketing facilities effective 01 January 2012.
In a letter last week to its agency users, Travelport has extracted key GDS functionality including queues, profiles, back-office interface records, and bridging (used by after-hours services), among other things, into a suite of pay-to-use services called "Travelport Agility". While some new features have been added to the Agility suite, the major impact for otherwise must-have tools will be at a monthly cost of approximately CAD $24 per workstation (device address) for Canadian subscribers - USD $35 per device address for U.S. agencies.
For example, a medium size Canadian travel agency with 10 Travelport device addresses, both booking and administrative, would incur a new fee of $2880 per year.
ARTA Canada and ARTA have written to Travelport's Derek Sharp, President and Managing Director, Americas Region and Airline IT Solutions regarding their mutual concerns that Travelport Agility includes crucial, previously free-of-charge services for which monthly fees must now be paid. Both associations have asked Travelport to delay any implementation of Agility until 01 February 2012 so that agencies, their associations, and Travelport can enter into constructive dialogue regarding the Agility product suite and its potential impact on subscribers.
Travelport's move appears to ARTA Canada as the first major fundamental shift in a mandatory agent-pay model, particularly because the Agility suite is largely composed of heretofore no-fee tools, without which few agencies would be able to function. Furthermore, if agents accept the Agility suite terms and download the required software, users may be unwittingly updating their Travelport platforms to accommodate future pay-to-use features and/or be unable to return to a previous platform environment. ARTA Canada feels that this volley by Travelport may be the thin edge of the wedge in a strategy to begin a major transition of GDS costs away from travel suppliers and onto the backs of travel agents.
ARTA Canada is equally concerned about the manner and timing of Travelport's announcement to subscribers. Most agencies did not receive official notice until some point during the first week of December 2011, many getting the notice on Monday, 06 December 2011. With less than a month extended to evaluate and understand the impact of the Agility suite, and given the fact that the December holiday season may already have key agency decision makers out of the office, the timing of Travelport's announcement seems calculated, if not entirely unfair.
ARTA Canada is advising its Travelport subscribing members to focus immediate attention on the impact of the Agility suite and the added costs on their business and to review their respective contracts.
ARTA Canada has been extremely vocal about getting travel agents to look at alternative distribution platforms, fearing that financial concessions sought by travel suppliers from GDSs will eventually be shifted by GDS providers to travel agencies to assume the cost differentials. Travelport's Agility initiative certainly seems headed in this direction, particularly given Travelport's indications earlier this month that agency segment incentives would be significantly decreasing over the coming years.
To assist travel agents in better understanding Travelport's imminent modifications to its platform, including the implications of the Travelport Agility suite, ARTA Canada and ARTA will provide a one hour online conference for both members and non-members on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 2:00PM Eastern. For more information, please click the button or link below:
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). 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.