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I thought I would summarize a few of the concepts and themes I heard throughout the recent IATA WPS held in Dubai. I didn’t take copious notes so quotes are not exact and quotations are for emphasis only.

  • “Legacy airline systems and GDS technology just can’t keep up with the innovation required by airlines” – various airline executives on panels and delivering presentations.

Comment – Frankly, I can’t keep up with how many times I have heard this over the last few years. It’s clear that the legacy players are not going to make the required investments regardless of how often the airlines complain. It is probably time for the airlines to stop waiting for legacy providers to deliver, and consider taking a different approach to get what they need. Or at least, Ask the Question!

  • “NDC is just not happening fast enough.” – various airline executives.

Comment – There are two root causes that explain the slow pace of NDC. First and foremost, the PSS and GDS providers (yes I refer to the handful of powerful companies that control the lion’s share of airline distribution technology) don’t really want NDC to happen, despite their countless public proclamations of NDC support at prior WPS events. If the GDS/PSS community wanted NDC, we would see evidence of rapid, game changing innovation and unfettered attention to airline and agency unmet requirements. Actions always speak louder than words.

The second cause of slow NDC adoption is the legacy procurement processes of many airlines. Even airlines that say they want to move fast and invest in new NDC-aligned technology solutions such as their own offer creation engines (shopping, merchandising, availability, etc.) are often stymied by impossibly long procurement processes (RFIs/RFPs) that can easily take more than a year to complete. And that assumes the business people involved in the “RFP Marathon” stay in those positions long enough to see it through. In our experience, RFPs take just over a year at best – often resulting in outdated requirements by the time a decision is made. In addition, 50% of the time, a key stakeholder leaves, and this further paralyzes the process for another 6-12 months. (And meanwhile, how many millions has the airline lost in missed opportunities for more revenue and happy customers? It’s time to Ask that Question!

  • “Corporate buyers need access to airline ancillary services & content” – various airline executives, a couple of corporate buyers and consultants, and even a few travel agency representatives.

Comment – They sure do! The last time I checked, almost 80% of corporate bookings were transacted via a corporate booking tool. I can honestly say that after more than three years into NDC that I still can’t point to one corporate booking tool that is supporting airline ancillary services and content in a meaningful way. Why? Airline content finding its way to a corporate booking tool is controlled by the GDSs. Refer to Notable Quote #1.

In summary, these are the common themes:

  • Airlines need to invest in innovation and use faster procurement processes.
  • The PSS and the GDS need to put up or get out of the way.
  • And the corporate booking tools need to be free to take content directly from the airline’s NDC API.

We will continue to invite all of you to Ask the Question—specifically the tough questions.

I have now read in its entirety the Sabre comment filed with the DOT. Wow! Seventy-seven pages of Sabre showing PowerPoint slides and screenshots of what’s to come… at some point… in the future… eventually. The part I found the most interesting was —————redact————————, especially when they discussed the future development of —————————————redact————————. They have really nailed it because I would have thought that taking the approach of —————redact————————————– would have yielded a better return on their technology investment. But hey, good for them.

Well, since Sabre has clearly presented their technology and product plans for the future of new-world distribution technology, I feel compelled to do the same. So here it is, The Farelogix Technology and Product Strategy for the Future: We are mainly investing in —————redact———————— to the tune of $—————redact———–. This will also us to revolutionize the way the airline industry performs —————redact————————————————-. We will be incorporating new and advanced fusion-based accelerator ———————————————redact———————— which will yield a significant reduction in cost of operations for airlines and travel agencies and by utilizing —————redact———————— will generate transaction response times of less than 2 milliseconds. Now that is a strategy!

So, there it is. Clear as day… or at least clear as Sabre’s strategy.

As always, your comments welcome.

© HaywireMedia - Fotolia.com

© HaywireMedia – Fotolia.com

I started reading Sabre’s comment to the DOT regarding IATA’s Resolution 787 (NDC) on the airplane the other day.  It only took a few paragraphs for me to realize that their comment was not really about NDC, but rather a defensive commentary insisting they can—or will at some point in the future be able to—do everything when it comes to providing airlines with the distribution technology airlines and travel agencies desire.  OK, but “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

So Sabre, in its comment to DOT, rather than commenting on the merits or shortcomings of Resolution 787 like everyone else did, submitted a voluminous 77-page document outlining how they can—whoops, I mean, will at some point in the future be able to—do everything the airlines, travel agencies, corporations, and consumers want. It makes me think of petulant 5-year-olds arguing on the playground. “Can not!” “Can too!”

Much of their comment includes screenshots. Hey, I like pictures as much as the next guy, and we even submitted some pictures in our DOT comment, but in the end it is not about pictures or even demos.  It’s about real product capabilities and value creation. In their comment, Sabre referenced a demo they gave at the DOT’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection as proof that they already have all these great distribution capabilities. I was at that particular meeting at the DOT and witnessed the Sabre demo.  Now, I know Sabre likes to call Farelogix products that have been in production for years mock-ups, so I won’t use that term, but words like prototype, untested, and unproven did come to mind as I was viewing that Sabre demo in DC.  So, Sabre, I will take your assertions with a grain of salt—a big, giant saltlick-sized grain of salt. Read the rest of this entry »

Farelogix is pleased to share our official commentary in support of IATA’s Resolution 787 (New Distribution Capability), which we recently submitted to the United States Department of Transportation. Yes, we know it’s a little long, but that’s because we wanted to provide a thorough analysis of the resolution including real-life examples of how this important initiative delivers greater transparency and choice to consumers, new opportunities for travel sellers, and a big step forward in the modernization of airline commerce.

So, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee and read our comment here.

As always, comments are welcome.

 

I don’t think there is a hotter topic right now in the airline industry than IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative. Over here at Ask the Question, we do our best to help clarify any confusion and respond to any spurious articles that we see, but we also like to have our fun and discussions on other topics, so if you’re looking for a blog that is all things NDC, look no further than IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) Blog.

It does a good job of providing clear, accurate information on NDC, as well as doing a fine job of myth busting. If you haven’t seen it, it is definitely worth checking out!

IATA

© evgenyb – Fotolia.com

Wow, look at all this fuss being made over the IATA NDC (New Distribution Capabilities) initiative. And I was so much looking forward to some R&R over the holidays.

Before we start, you need to know that I have not been a glowing fan of some of the IATA moves over the years, but this initiative—NDC—is one I think is rather insightful and extremely helpful not only for our airline industry but also for consumers, third-party developers, and travel agencies alike.

So let’s start to unravel the fuss with an understanding of what a schema actually is (in this case, a technical development schema) because I am pretty sure that most of the folks making all the fuss have most likely never worked with a technical schema or probably even seen one in real life. (I have attached a piece of a schema below so now they can attest to at least seeing one). A technical schema is a roadmap with very specific directions that, if you follow, will get to where you want to go–technically speaking, that is. In other words, an XSD schema file (XML Schema Definition) defines the structure of an XML message/document to include, for example, elements and attributes (child elements, order and number of elements, data types, and more).

For example, let’s say you are at the zoo and you want to go see the zebras. You will probably start out looking at a map of the zoo. If you follow the path defined for you by the map, you will undoubtedly end up seeing zebras and not those pesky hyenas by mistake. Same concept applies to a technical schema. In our case, a technology developer wants to accomplish certain tasks by connecting to an airline’s internal system to request a seat map, or retrieve a PNR, or make an exchange, etc. The schema simply provides the predictable technical pathway to accomplish the task at hand.  Read the rest of this entry »

© Christos Georghiou – Fotolia.com

In some ways we (the industry we) are so predictable. I am referring to the very recent breaking news from Abu Dhabi that the IATA membership has directionally endorsed and approved that the organization is moving ahead with its NDC initiative. For those of you not familiar with this particular acronym, it stands for New Distribution Capabilities.

And, as quickly as those voting for the NDC initiative to move forward could drop their hands back into their laps, we see two industry groups—ASTA and Business Travel Coalition (BTC)—publically coming out against NDC. It’s almost as if this reaction was planned ahead of time… (Let’s see, the vote was Thursday morning, October 18, Abu Dhabi time, that’s 9 hours ahead of EST. Tnooz published on October 18 at 8:24 am ET and The Beat published its story at 7:24 pm ET, so if I carry the 1, I get… I don’t know. I was always bad a math. But the point is, this denunciation of NDC was all ready to go before it was even voted on.

For those of you that didn’t have the chance to read the articles, allow me to summarize (in my own words, of course)… “NDC is bad, we don’t really know what it is, but we know it is bad, so stop doing this bad thing!” Read the rest of this entry »

I truly love this industry, especially the airline industry, and most especially the airline distribution subset. It is chocked full of opportunity, drama, tension, and lots of industry panels talking about how things need to change and get better.

So, the other evening I put on my fuzzy-toed bunny PJs, microwaved some popcorn, and curled up with my laptop to watch a rerun stream of a panel about airline distribution that was held just a day before in Beijing, China during the annual IATA conference.

http://www.iata.org/events/agm/2012/Pages/panel-airline-distribution.aspx

The panel included a full stage of industry execs from airlines, GDSs, and Google. Oh this is gonna be good….some notable heavyweights in the industry are poised to get it on! And get it on they did…in the form of a thought-provoking discussion focused largely on the 60 percent of airline distribution that goes through the travel agency channel. I thought I would attempt to characterize and share with you some major takeaways after 59 minutes. Here we go. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m not sure if you caught IATA’s recent paper, “A Road Map to Prepare for Tomorrow’s Passenger: Five Goals Towards Sustainable Profits and Better Service,” but I must say I was more than impressed. My hat goes off to IATA for understanding that the status quo is no longer working for airlines, distributors, and the consumers they serve.

The paper, part of IATA’s Simplifying the Business (StB) program, looks to “define the next wave of projects that will allow the industry to save costs, improve service and prepare for tomorrow’s passenger.”

There are several key words there that make me believe IATA really gets it. Save costs—a clear need for an industry that is still using old and expensive technology. Improve service­—in case you haven’t noticed, the airline industry isn’t exactly winning over consumers, but we have the ability to change that. Tomorrow’s passenger—yes, yes, yes! Exactly! What consumers have come to expect is well beyond what we’re providing today. We have to recognize and anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s passenger today, and by doing so we will also save costs and improve service.

© Marek - Fotolia.com

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