Questioning the travel industry status quo, one blog post at a time

Archive for the ‘Direct Connect’ Category

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© antonbrand – Fotolia.com

Jay, I found your recent commentary on AA’s Direct Connect initiative quite interesting. Frankly, I was hoping that it would have taken much longer before anyone found out that of the various Farelogix teams, the one working on the AA Direct Connect project is actually made up of zombies.

Although I am tempted to spend some time correcting the record on the parts of my quotes that were left out or taken out of context, I recognize that the piece was based on opinion, and not actual reporting. That said, I was surprised that you left out commentary on some very relevant issues, but maybe additional commentary from you is forthcoming. With that in mind, I wanted to offer the following possible topics for your consideration:

Perhaps in a future piece you could share your thoughts on why when our industry is clamoring for transparency (transparency purported to be available through the GDS, mind you), Sabre—a distribution intermediary with a large US market share that is trusted and paid by American Airlines and other airlines to distribute their product—was able to secretly bias travel agency displays against American Airlines in retaliation for its Direct Connect initiative. It would be great to hear your views on the state of our industry’s competitive landscape when it seems that some travel agencies were coerced to participate in this secret, Sabre-led boycott of American Airlines—a boycott that was detrimental to American Airlines, its corporate and leisure consumers, and its airline partners. According to alleged internal Sabre emails and documents, this boycott was specifically designed to punish American Airlines for its Direct Connect initiative. Maybe some Sabre executive will grant you an open interview on these topics… or at least respond to email questions.  Read the rest of this entry »

I could not help but think of this famous Mark Twain quote as I read Mark Pestronk’s article published in the recent issue of Travel Weekly. I’ve known Mark since my days with System One, but  I was a bit surprised by his statement about Direct Connect being “a failure” and his related references to it being “vaporware.” Now, I can only assume that Mr. Pestronk is not referring to the Direct Connect developed by Farelogix. Because our Direct Connect is fully certified by ARC and BSP in over 60 countries, deployed by 15 airlines around the world, accessed by over 5000 travel agencies in 40 countries, and used by millions of passengers (knowingly or not) to fly on those airlines. And I certainly believe these numbers would be significantly higher were it not for the concerted efforts of a few in our industry to stall the progress of the Farelogix Direct Connect.

It certainly is no longer any secret that at least one GDS has wanted to stop Farelogix and its Direct Connect deployment. Quoting testimony from the recent American Airlines v. Sabre case (transcripts available at http://www.farelogix.com/transcripts.php), just as Mr. Pestronk did, we now know this GDS wanted Farelogix to go away. As stated in internal emails from Sabre,“Our goal is one—not let Farelogix spread any further, and number two, to discontinue the current locations.”[1] Another read, “We want to make sure we are still pushing on the strategy of shutting down Farelogix.”[2]

 

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 I have to ask, why would one GDS go to the lengths of “shutting down Farelogix” if Direct Connect is, as reported in Travel Weekly, “a failure” and “vaporware?”

Since I can’t answer the particular question as to what would motivate a GDS to want to shut down Farelogix, what I can do is propose an offer to Mr. Pestronk, or anyone else that writes about or wants to write about Direct Connect, to come to our office in Miami for a couple of hours where we will provide a fully transparent and in-depth review of the Farelogix Direct Connect. That way the next time anyone writes about Direct Connect, he or she can reliably report on the facts.

 



[1] October 24th p41, lines 18-21

[2] October 24th p41, lines 24-25

I recently read The Beat’s article about Sabre’s plans to beef-up its virtual meetings product with booking capabilities. Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me. But given that the majority of Sabre’s (and the other GDSs’) revenue today comes from airlines, one could probably safely assume that the funds needed by the GDS to invest in and develop this new business line came directly from the airlines. Which is the basis of my question: Should the GDS be in the teleconferencing business? After all, it is a business that is in direct competition with their core customers’ business. More Teleconferencing = Less Airline Travel.

One really doesn’t even have to think too long about this question. The answer is obvious.

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Air & Business Travel News posted a “News Story” this week that cites a large TMCs annual Travel Management Priorities report. According to the report, “Comparing travel costs between suppliers will be ‘more difficult’ for buyers this year because of extra charges and airlines’ attempts to move to ‘direct connect’ distribution.

Unfortunately, this large TMC’s report just hit the tip of the iceberg. We did some research and took some surveys* about what else will be ‘more difficult’ because of Direct Connect. I hope you’re sitting down. The results might just shock you!

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With a new year upon us, the air [pun intended] is filling with talk of Airline Strategy 2012. With hundreds of airlines all over the world, there is no doubt a tremendous amount of strategic discussion going on. And I’ll go out on a limb and say at least some of that discussion centers on Airline Direct Connect Distribution. But with all the information, misinformation, uncertainty, and controversy pinned to Airline Direct Connect, how is anyone really in a position to determine if it is, in fact, the right move?

In our never-ending quest for transparency, we thought we would do our part to help answer the question, Is a Direct Connect Strategy Right for Me? And as with any good quandary, providing answers to a simple set of statements can provide you with instant enlightenment and direction. After all, this methodology has been employed by many social sites and popular magazines to determine if our love lives could be better, if he’s cheating on us, and how sexy our names are. So it can clearly solve something as simple as, Is Direct Connect Right For Me? Read the rest of this entry »

As you may know, I had the privilege of speaking at the FVW Kongress in Cologne, Germany in September. I must say, it ended up being one of my favorite presentations I have ever given. I was finally able to be on the same stage as Mr. Mitchell and have an in-depth debate on Direct Connect. Really, it was great.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it, or if you just really liked the presentation, I have made it available for download along with some slide notes. But please note that these were not my actual notes, but just a recollection of what I presented. And being on the wrong side of 50, it is definitely not verbatim.

Enjoy!

FVW Congress Presentation

Presentation Notes

It finally happened. We had the opportunity to go head-to-head, on stage, in front of some of the world’s most influential travel people. The topic? I won’t make you guess. It was titled Direct Connect: Horror Vision or New Option for Ticket Sales, but unofficially billed as the “Duel in Deutschland.” Don’t believe me? See below.

Okay, so we made that video up. But the “duel” did actually take place, but in Cologne, Germany. What? Safer on foreign soil? Believe it or not, this “duel” was the first time I remember meeting Kevin Mitchell in person. He’s not a bad guy, though I disagree with most of his assessment of Direct Connect, but that’s okay. I just think he might be getting his information about Direct Connect from the wrong places. It’s kind of like saying you don’t like a movie based on what other people have told you. Or saying you don’t like a certain food before you’ve even tried it. You know, like broccoli. Where have I heard that before?? But I digress.

But it did make me think. Why did it take a foreign travel publication to bring the two of us together when we (the US travel industry) have so many forums, conferences, panels, and seminars? Aren’t we the ones embroiled emotionally, operationally, and even legally in the Direct Connect movement? Kudos to FVW for making it happen.

As for the actual “duel”, I did agree with Mitchell on a few of his points, although, not many.

I agreed when he said competition and free markets is good and the customer will ultimately decide whether a product is good or not. Yet all I see is that a tremendous amount of effort being spent by a number of folks attempting to stifle competition and keep Direct Connect out of the potential customers hands. Why?

I also agreed with Mr. Mitchell when he stated hidden fees and lack of transparency are bad for our industry, or for any industry for that matter. But to equate those attributes to Direct Connect, when I presented facts and visuals that Direct Connect actually provides customers with more transparency and more choices than they get today, seemed a bit strange to me. That’s when I realized that most likely Mr. Mitchell has probably never even seen a real-life Direct Connect.

So I invited him to come to our office for an honest to goodness, fully transparent, deep dive into Direct Connect. Who knows, he might even like it after he tries it. It has to be better than broccoli.

Presentation from FVW Congress to follow…

 

In case you missed it, Direct Connect is extending its global reach!

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Mercator and Farelogix to Amplify Airline Direct Connect Reach Worldwide

DUBAI and MIAMI  August 23, 2011 — Mercator, the airline IT solutions provider of the Emirates Group, and Farelogix have entered into an agreement whereby Mercator will be able to offer the Farelogix Direct Connect technology platform to its current and prospective customers. The agreement enables Mercator to sell and implement the comprehensive repertoire of Farelogix technology, including airline direct connects, to Mercator’s airline customers seeking to reap the benefits of lower cost, highly flexible distribution technologies.

“We have developed a very productive relationship with Mercator over the years, and this agreement was a great next step for both companies,” says Jim Davidson, President and CEO of Farelogix. “Mercator hosts the reservation system for Emirates Airlines which, in 2006, was one of the first airlines to globally launch a Farelogix Direct Connect solution. As a result, Mercator has a high degree of technological expertise with Farelogix and our technology, making it a natural fit for them to broaden the reach of our Direct Connect and related technologies to other Mercator-supported carriers.“

“Mercator has distinguished itself by working in cooperation with our global customers to address their needs to be able to quickly adapt to change in the travel industry,” said Duncan Alexander, Mercator Vice President. “Passengers today expect more than just flights. They want easy, immediate access to the full range of products and services offered by their airline of choice. Farelogix Direct Connect perfectly meets these requirements by allowing carriers to create tailored access. In addition to providing Farelogix technology to our customers, Mercator will also provide additional benefits to them by offering consulting and implementation services that cater to the needs of individual airlines.”

About Mercator
Mercator, the airline IT solutions provider of the Emirates Group, is a leading supplier of IT solutions to the global air travel industry. The company also meets and satisfies the full range of the demanding IT needs of the main constituent parts of the Emirates Group – the award winning Emirates Airline and dnata, the largest air travel services organization in the Middle East. The philosophy behind the development of Mercator solutions ensures that each adds significant value by reducing costs, improving processes and increasing productivity.

Mercator’s customers include major world airlines such as: WestJet, JetBlue, British Airways, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, and SriLankan Airlines. Mercator’s continuing mission is to establish itself as the professional IT services and business solutions provider of choice; trusted, valued and respected by the global airline community. Mercator achieves this by consistently meeting the individual needs of its customers through quality of product, service and delivery. For more information, visit www.mercator.com.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Direct Connect debate continues to heat up. Bobblehead hasn’t been living under a rock, he’s just been… out of the country. But with all the hoopla surrounding Direct Connect, and some of the questions GDSs are telling their agencies to ask the airlines, I figured it’d be a good time to recall our bobbly buddy to lay some Direct Connect answers on you.

Enjoy!

Ask the Question 12

I am sure if you were a fly on the wall at Blockbuster HQ a while back you would have heard these words: “That new Netflix strategy is simply misguided.” And similarly, in the hallowed halls of Kodak you most definitely would have heard something like, “Digital photography, talk about a misguided strategy.” Or the countless brick and mortar retailers that failed to develop an online presence because they thought Amazon.com’s distribution strategy would “never work.” My guess is that the folks who uttered those words are no longer employed by their respective organizations. In my humble opinion, those folks failed to recognize the power of the technology that was responsible for bringing about that “misguided strategy”

Copyright JJAVA / Fotolia

Yet, I continue to hear some in our industry say, “this new direct connect strategy is misguided.” So, do the same technological principles that radically changed the company strategies mentioned above apply to our industry? That is a great… Ask The Question.

To assist in getting to some of those answers, I refer you to an essay recently written by Richard Eastman, who as many of you know has been at the forefront of travel and related technology for years.

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