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

Posts Tagged ‘Absurdity’

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© Maridav – Fotolia.com

As a number of technology companies position themselves to capitalize on IATA’s NDC initiative, it is likely that some “NDC impersonators” may be lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on unsuspecting airlines.  So, how do you know if you are dealing with an NDC impersonator? Well as Jeff Foxworthy might say, You know you’re dealing with an NDC Impersonator when they say…

“Hey, all you have to do is give us access to all of your customer loyalty data, and we will personalize the offer for you.”

– Or –

“We can build that API for you, and it will only cost you… $1 Million dollars as a down payment.”

– Or –

“You want to introduce a new kind of seat? No problem! It will only take 24 months for implementation.”

– Or –

“Don’t worry! The PSS will handle all of this… and it’s freeeeeeeee.”

– Or –

“Well, we’ll have to weigh your requirements against the community. Let’s put your idea to a vote to see if other airlines want it, too.”

And finally, you know you are dealing with an NDC Impersonator when they say…

“We coded those applications for your current solution. Of course it doesn’t work now because you changed hosting providers. It’s your fault!”

I reread Sabre’s DOT comment on IATA’s Resolution 787, and what I really think it boils down to is them saying there is no need for a new standard because they can already do everything the airlines are asking for! Seems like they believe the world revolves around them. What about all those other aggregators, GDSs, and airline distribution partners that would benefit from having an airline connectivity standard?

According to Sabre, it appears like the only thing airlines have to do is purchase (I’m assuming they won’t give it away for free) some route-based advertising in Sabre Red’s “Graphical PromoSpot” and boom—product differentiation completed. Don’t worry airlines, you can also get a Text PromoSpot for agents still using the cryptic screen. Funny thing is, we believe airlines want more than just highlighting amenities and services. It’s about transacting dynamic, personalized, and relevant offers at time of search and throughout the travel process, like many airlines already deliver on their website.

At any rate, Sabre sums up their position well here, “That assertion [Resolution 787] is that new technical standards, to be jointly agreed and jointly controlled by airlines under the auspices of IATA, are needed because, it is claimed, GDSs, such as Sabre, will not otherwise be able to support efforts by airlines to highlight their amenities and services and to make “personalized” offers to consumers. This assertion is not true.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Empty_Box_Person_Looking_InOk, sometimes I am easily confused, but this one is taking the cake. I am totally confounded because in the last several months practically everyone I have spoken to—travel agencies, corporate travel managers, and even GDSs (well, Sabre and Farelogix aren’t really on speaking terms lately, so not all GDSs)—has expressed interest in having viewable, transparent, and bookable access to the various airline merchandising and ancillary services many airlines have on their websites. Everyone wants it, which makes perfect sense. Having access to more options that are relevant, up-to-the-minute, accurate, and maybe even personalized for the individual traveler making the request is clearly good for consumers, corporate travelers, corporations, travel agencies, OTAs, and GDSs. It’s good for everybody!

Enter IATA. IATA, through its standards-setting body, has developed its optional NDC initiative. This standards initiative was developed with input from various travel supply chain players. They worked long and hard to define a technology integration and workflow standard that enables an airline to deliver relevant, up-to-the-minute, accurate, and maybe even personalized offers to travel agencies, consumers, corporate travelers, corporations, OTAs, and GDSs. So, essentially IATA is enabling more airline content to be delivered and more is good, right?  Read the rest of this entry »

We couldn't think of a good picture for this blog, so we went with a classic gif: Monkey Washing Cat.

We couldn’t think of a good picture for this blog, so we went with a classic gif: Monkey Washing Cat.

I read Mr. Pestronk’s recent response to the NDC question with fascination and bewilderment. Clearly some education and clarification is needed, so I thought it best to go through parts of his article and add my comments. They are in bolded italics.

Think of NDC as like American’s Direct Connect except that, instead of being pushed by just one airline, it is going to be backed by all 240 IATA airlines, including all U.S. legacy carriers, at the same time. When you say, “think of NDC as like American’s Direct Connect,” are you referring to American’s Direct Connect to Travelport, whereby Travelport will connect to American using the NDC standard with the only difference travel agents will notice is that they have all the ancillaries that American offers and can therefore provide their customers with up-to-the-minute, authenticated, and perhaps even personalized offers? Because that is truly what accepting NDC means. It means an airline can use one modern, flexible pipe to connect to all distributors. No longer would there be a need for multiple pipes with separate and different standards on how to connect. Instead everyone would connect in the same way.

IATA has asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to approve the agreement setting up the rules for NDC, and interested parties have until May 1 to file comments. True, and if you are a travel agency, I think you should encourage DOT to approve NDC as soon as possible so airlines that choose to adopt this new connectivity standard can get on with delivering that precious content travel agencies and their corporate and leisure customers want.
Read the rest of this entry »

headscratcherIn reviewing the various motions to seal in the American Airlines v. Sabre litigation, I was amused to find that part of BTC’s motion to seal was based on the premise that “BTC’s membership pricing is a trade secret,” and that “public disclosure of the pricing of a small business such as BTC will have significant detrimental ramifications on BTC’s ability to do business in the future.” Okay, fair enough. One small problem—that information is all on their website! Not much sleuthing required. It’s on the Membership Center of their website. Kudos to BTC for being so transparent… but then, what’s the secret?

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© Liaurinko – Fotolia.com

I found it quite interesting last week when a number of parties showed up in a Tarrant County courthouse to defend their motions to seal the documents from the recent American Airlines v. Sabre litigation. It’s not the process I found so interesting as motions to seal documents are not all that uncommon. What I found most interesting was that certain companies that filed motions to seal documents are the very same companies clamoring for more transparency and visibility when it comes to the airline industry. Oh, how important transparency is! But not here! Not this time! No way, no how!

In reading a few of the actual motions filed (they are public), the general theme was that trade secrets were at stake for the companies that submitted documents. They could not have confidential information revealed as it may cause a competitive disadvantage for them. I actually agree with that premise, but only if the information being protected is… well let’s just say… on the up-and-up. I definitely do not think we should be protecting things like the secret biasing of airline content to travel agencies and consumers, or participating in an illegal boycott, or threatening customers into not using a competitive product… you know, Sherman Act kind of stuff. We should know all about things like that. You would think that if consumers were negatively impacted, and they were, some of those consumer groups would be demanding to know what went on.  Nope.   Surely trade secret information could have been kept confidential while the rest of the furtive information was disclosed? But, alas, that’s not that case.

This whole episode has led me to coin a new phrase: Transpocrisy [trans-pok-ruh-see] – the false claim to or pretense of having admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings as relates to transparency, especially in airline distribution.

Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Transpocrisy…

© ysk_hrsw_i - Fotolia.com

© ysk_hrsw_i – Fotolia.com

Well here we are in a new year and still no outrage! We reported over a month ago that, according to transcripts from the AA v. Sabre case, Sabre, through boycotts and biasing, might have seriously impacted those all along the travel supply chain.

According to the documents, airline partners of AA were allegedly subject to biasing. Consumers were allegedly denied transparent and unbiased flight information. Corporations with contractual obligations to American had, it appears in some cases, AA flights withheld completely from corporate travelers seeking to book. And let’s not forget that the transcripts suggest travel agencies unknowingly had their point-of-sale displays tampered with.

Are we the only ones who find it odd that such serious GDS actions—actions that apparently impacted parties across the entire supply chain—are not being met with outrage and demand for serious investigation by industry advocacy groups such as BTC, ITSA, GBTA and ACTE?

Or is our industry outrage really that selective…?

Somebody should Ask The Question.