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

Posts Tagged ‘Airline connectivity’

It’s beeOptical fibern a long time coming, but it’s incredibly rewarding to finally see NDC connectivity to the Sabre GDS enabling airline product differentiation, personalization, and improved profitability.

If you missed the news, I’ll recap it for you. American Airlines recently announced its GDS integration to Sabre using the airlines’ NDC-style API. It’s no secret that Farelogix built and powers the AA direct connect API, and that we are incredibly proud of the work that has been done with the airline to date. Connecting a full-service airline’s API to a GDS is no easy feat – at least doing it the first time – but all three companies (Sabre, AA, and Farelogix) worked hard and cooperatively to make this happen. But, believe it or not, that’s not the real story here.

The real story is what this connectivity to Sabre means for an industry that has basically been “stuck” in third party distribution limbo for years. This announcement just changed the status quo for everyone, and it’s a win-win situation for all. No one loses.

Airlines win by being able to offer differentiated content, which can increase loyalty and generate new revenue. The TMCs/OTAs win by having the most up-to-date and relevant airline content, helping to secure their value proposition to their customers. The GDSs win by being able to deliver (and ultimately display and sell) new airline services to their users (i.e., airlines, TMCs, and corporate booking tools). Consumers and corporate travelers win by getting access to the airline content and product choices they have been clamoring for, with minimal process change.

Given our history with Sabre, I was skeptical about ever seeing this level of win-win situation in airline distribution in my lifetime. But there it is, staring us right in the face. And although there is still much more work that has to be done to bring the entire industry in line with NDC, for once we are all moving forward in the right direction. New airline connectivity to GDSs is here, and it is reloading the value proposition for what was always viewed as a tired, outdated, and over-priced distribution channel. Plus, any future GDS integrations with our other airline customers will be almost automatic since 90 percent of the integration work is reusable with any GDS, thanks to an NDC-aligned integration standard.

How great is that? And in my lifetime too!

In case you missed last week, IATA’s Alexander Popovich wrote a great piece in Tnooz explaining some of the fears and angst surrounding NDC. Definitely worth the read!

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NB: This is a viewpoint by, Aleks Popovich, senior vice president for financial and distribution at the International Air Transport Association.

Providing customers with more information and choice, enabling agents to sell a wider range of products and opening up a new realm of services more closely tailored to customers’ needs.

This should be a welcome development in the travel industry.

However, IATA is well aware that many in the travel agency community are concerned about IATA’s Resolution 787, the foundation document for the New Distribution Capability (NDC) project.

Yet despite the filing of 400+ comments and motions for or against Resolution 787 with the US Department of Transportation, there has been almost no attention paid to what is really driving travel agent angst over the NDC project: fear of the unknown.

Read the rest of the article at Tnooz.

Just like when we were 8 and our goldfish died, most of us will, at some point, go through the 5 Stages of Grief. It’s a tough process, but once we manage our way through it, we end up being at peace with the situation. As it turns out, my experience has shown me that for some people, accepting new innovation generally follows a similar process. While there is certainly nothing funny about grief, I thought it might be fun to view the eventual acceptance of IATA’s new NDC (New Distribution Capability), otherwise known as Resolution 787, through the 5 Stages of Accepting Innovation.

© richardlyons - Fotolia.com

© richardlyons – Fotolia.com

As we know, the first stage is Denial. Pinkie the goldfish isn’t dead. He’s just resting. Upside down. When IATA first announced its NDC initiative, it seemed that several folks in the industry, including some of the more vocal opponents of change, reacted by simply denying NDC’s existence. Even though IATA was having a number of working groups in Geneva and Montreal with folks from airlines, tech companies, TMCs, and GDS, some still suggested that whole initiative was just a bunch of vaporware. Not surprising, as many initial reactions to innovation are to simply deny its existence and hope that it goes away.

But, like most good things, innovation doesn’t just go away. So what happens next? Enter Stage 2: Anger. I’m so mad at Pinkie! How could he do this me! In the 5 Stages of Accepting Innovation, this is probably the most interesting and unpredictable stage because it brings out what I call creative criticism of the innovation. Folks accuse it of just about every bad thing under the sun, even if the facts clearly point to the opposite. One thing I have learned is that in Stage 2 of Accepting Innovation, facts mean little or nothing. Remember, we’re MAD! So it is in this stage when a lot of people—particularly those individuals, companies, and coalitions very much invested in the old way of doing things—say incredulous things like IATA’s NDC is anti-competitive and represents the end of the world as we know it! Behold the end of comparison shopping! Stay away from that NDC thing, as it will require you to give out all precious personal information and take away your right to shop anonymously! (Actually, I am a bit surprised we didn’t hear NDC called unpatriotic. That‘s always a favorite during an outpouring of anger.) Of course, anyone who has read Resolution 787 in its entirety or been involved in any of the IATA NDC working groups knows that none of the above accusations about NDC are true. But hey, folks are mad, and they get to say stuff that isn’t true. It’s the rite of passage through Stage 2. Unfortunately, some tend to wallow in this stage a bit too long. Read the rest of this entry »

© alphaspirit - Fotolia.com

© alphaspirit – Fotolia.com

As the airline industry begins to adopt modern and sophisticated distribution technology, we are delighted that United Airlines and Priceline have selected Farelogix as their technology provider in this innovative solution. It is clear Airline Commerce is expanding by leaps and bounds! On that note, we invite interested airlines to come see what all the fuss is about, and join us for the Farelogix Technology Symposium, taking place here in Miami in just a few weeks.

 

 

 

Delivering on NDC Ad

The Miami Boat Show was not the only hip and happening thing in Miami last week. Farelogix held a Media Day! We had speakers, food, cocktails, and lively discussion from industry thought leaders Henry Harteveldt, Norm Rose, Montie Brewer, Andy Menkes, and Doug Lavin from IATA. They all provided perspectives, trends, predictions, antidotes, and tales of industry successes and woes.

Here are a few key points I walked away with:

© Ivelin Radkov - Fotolia.com

© Ivelin Radkov – Fotolia.com

–  Consumers want choice when it comes to airline products. In fact, the more the better.

– The concept of democratizing ancillaries (i.e., allowing infrequent travelers the opportunity to purchase products and services normally only available to the elite travelers) is a good thing

– Traveler authenticated search and offer is the new normal, even if it is a deliberately anonymous request.

– Airlines must compete at each and every transaction.

– Mobile is not a channel, it’s everything.

– IATA’s NDC initiative is nothing more than a technology schema standard (developers roadmap) and optional workflow process where the distribution aggregator (yes, including the GDSs) makes a real-time offer request to the airline at the time of initial search (kind of like how the GDSs deal with a number of LCCs today).

And, oh, the product demos! Yes, they were our demos, but nevertheless, they were sensational!

We introduced and showed off our new Airline Commerce Gateway. We produced an array of real, live transactions (no PowerPoint or screen captures here) to demonstrate how airlines and travel agencies, and even GDSs will benefit when an airline implements the Airline Commerce Gateway powered by Farelogix.  Read the rest of this entry »

© 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 »

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 just ordered a wireless TV receiver so I can move my TV to the patio and watch my Miami Heat games uninterrupted. A wireless TV receiver… How does that even work? Well, one reason it works is because there are some fairly standard WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) communications for these sorts of things.

Yet, the whole concept of “standards” continues to dog our industry. A recent example of our trouble with standards was reported on February 22 in the The Beat. United is migrating to a new reservation system, and there will be casualties—namely, Sabre agents won’t be able to sell UA Economy Plus for some undetermined period of time. Why? Well since you’re asking me, I’d be of the opinion that Sabre developed the application specifically to a proprietary backend process within Apollo (United’s current reservation system provider), which as of March 3 will no longer be supporting United’s reservations system. Sabre’s stated reason is that it built United’s capability to sell Economy Plus seats “before industry technology standards existed,” thus making the solution “specifically designed for the reservation system they used at the time.” Some would refer to this development as a “hard-coded” solution. And for those that don’t know, those types of solutions are not flexible or portable. Read the rest of this entry »

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!

© Glenda Powers - Fotolia.com

Read the rest of this entry »