I recently attended T2RL’s New Generation of Airline PSS conference held in London. The audience included several of the world’s top airlines as well as a slew of companies representing the hungry crowd of vendors just waiting to get their bite of this lucrative PSS market.
Observation #1: The PSS market has massive opportunity…
…well not really. In Richard Clarke’s opening remarks, he put up a slide of the top 28 PSS providers. That’s right – twenty-eight technology companies, most of which had representatives in the audience. The problem is that once you get to number 4 on the list, you are pretty much done in terms of real opportunity. If you take TravelSky out (as that market is a bit tied up at the moment), and put Navitaire in its rightful category (under Amadeus) then voila… the list is down to two – Amadeus and Sabre, dominating the world’s PSS provider market share. Yet, bless their hearts, 24 other PSS provider companies are still giving it a go, hoping against all hope that they will land “the big one”!
This Notable Quote is from Cormac Whelan, CEO of Mercator and a man I look up to and probably always will: “The perceived technology challenges facing the PSS are not technical at all. They are commercial. The technology is already here.”
Observation #2: The airlines that attend a New Generation PSS conference are looking for a change…
…well again, not really. When the general audience was asked by a panelist “how many airlines are looking for change to happen in the PSS industry?” I could count the number of airlines raising their hands on one of my hands. Seriously! And of those airline hand raising rabble-rousers, Farelogix already has a commercial relationship with most. Which begs the question, why did we come to this event? Why did those other airlines bother showing up? My advice to those non-hand raising airlines – stay home next year. Save your money; you’ll probably need it to pay your rising PSS bill.
Notable Quotes: “I look at the PSS as I am standing on the bank of a rushing river of money flowing out of the airline to the PSS.” And on what a PSS migration does to an airline: “It constipates them; they can’t do anything for years.” ~ Tim Catling, PSS Program Manager at Cathay Pacific Airlines.
Another Notable Quote: “The people that made the mechanical diggers all sat back and laughed at the people making the hydraulic diggers because they were big and expensive and no one wanted them…until they were no longer big and expensive and everyone wanted a hydraulic digger and no one wanted a mechanical digger.” ~ Tim Hartford, Columnist and Author, Financial Times.
Final observation: The PSS business seems to be a really good model for the PSS companies, well at least two. But what’s in it for the airlines?
There you have it. Maybe I’ll be a reporter in my next life, because sooner or later someone needs to Ask the Question!