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

Archive for the ‘Free Markets’ Category

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Aviation Consumer Protection hearing. The objective of the day was for a hard-working advisory panel to get input from a variety of industry folks on whether or not to recommend some form of new regulation concerning the sale and distribution of airline ancillary products and services as it pertains to travel agencies—both traditional brick and mortar travel agencies as well as online travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Travelocity. The lines were clearly drawn between those advocating a free market approach where innovative and competitive distribution technology solutions empower full consumer transparency, choice, and personalization versus a government-regulated approach that could easily end up dictating both technology requirements and a commercial model clearly favoring the status quo. I am sure you can guess which side I came out on….

© Texelart – Fotolia.com

What I found most interesting was a presentation by Sabre where they proclaimed to the panel that they have solved the problem of offering and selling airline ancillary services (or “fees” as they like to call them) through the Sabre travel agencies. They exclaimed, “The shelves are built!” They went on to say that all Sabre needed to “fill the shelves” of their travel agency selling software was for DOT to adopt a new regulation that would force the airlines to give them all of their ancillary data, in a format that matches up with the way Sabre chose to build their selling system. That’s right: if the airlines would just agree to sell their products the way Sabre wants them to, everything would be a piece of cake. Hmmm…whatever happened to the concept of building a better mousetrap instead of telling the mouse to just stand there while you trap it?

Anyway, back to that piece of cake. After measuring, mixing, and baking, Sabre was ready to pull that piece of cake out of the oven and put the icing on with a product demonstration. They initially positioned the demo to the panel as “here and ready for agency use.” Many of us in the audience had seen this presentation before, on YouTube and GBTA-sponsored webinars. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas E. Calio

If we have learned anything from the evolution of the smartphone, it’s that we — that is, all consumers — like to have choices. We like to pick our phone, our apps and our data plans and customize them to best meet our needs.

And we like the fact that we have multiple options when it comes to where to buy our phone and services, understanding that we benefit from competition, technology and the free market at work.

The same is true of air service.

Customers no longer make their travel decisions based solely on schedules and fares. Rather, they now can customize their experience based on what they value and need, opting for choices such as in-flight WiFi, priority boarding, premium seating, meals or doubling their miles, among other criteria.

Read the rest of the article at Travel Weekly.

To borrow a line from almost every late night talk show host, “I couldn’t make this stuff up.” But I can blog it!

I’ve been accused from time to time of being a purveyor of black magic, a spellbinder of XML incantations, an agitator, a snake oil salesperson, an innovation bigot, and a man with a bobblehead’s brain. But one thing I’ve never been called is a “flip-flopper.” I tend to stick with my basic belief that through a combination of innovation, creativity, great people and a competitive landscape, valuable and far-reaching strides are happening in airline distribution… all to the benefit of airlines, travel agencies, and consumers. I wish I could say the same about some other folks in the industry.

Glass Concept Home by Santambrogiomilano

Anyone not living in a cave is aware of the tremendous distraction taking place in our industry by cries that airlines are “hiding fees.” It’s getting so bad that a huge lobbying effort is taking place to get the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to mandate new onerous regulations on disclosure and transparency… all under that guise that it’s to “protect consumers.” There seems to be a virtual swinging door at DOT headquarters with pleas from ITSA, ASTA, BTC, and the GDSs to force, through regulations, the airlines to be more transparent and disclose all airline optional services and related fees.

Of course, this is all in the name of “consumer protection.”

Read the rest of this entry »