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

Posts Tagged ‘Direct Connect’

© jkphoto69 - Fotolia.com

© jkphoto69 – Fotolia.com

I just got back from GBTA, where it was really nice to see some old friends and meet some new ones. Hearing Jewel’s story at lunch was absolutely fantastic, and she can still belt out the songs. The sessions I attended were fairly informative, but I will say it was interesting to see that all of the push back and anger that was once directed towards Direct Connect has found some additional new friends with Open Bookings and IATA’s NDC.

And on the topic of NDC, could Sabre and BTC be any more off the mark? Sabre was either intentionally misleading GBTA attendees or they have been reading their own NDC propaganda for so long that they actually believe it. In either case, the misinformation campaign against NDC was alive and well throughout the conference: Travelers will have to provide all their personal information! Bookings will all be made outside of the GDS! Trip servicing will be impossible! And by the way, BTC did go way too far in making their subtle yet pointed connection to NDC and terrorism. Haven’t we learned yet that fear mongering is just kind of shameful and bad for everyone?

Anyway, during one general session moderated by Philip Wolf (the PhoCusWright legend), he asked the audience—measured informally through applause—whether NDC will be good, indifferent, or bad for the industry. You can imagine after two days of various people pontificating on “the ills” of NDC, the overwhelming applause was for bad for the industry. At that point Philip stated that he conducted a similar poll back in 1995 about whether the Internet would be used for travel and got a similar response… Okay, so GBTA is not a good leading indicator of industry trends or technology. 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

© antonbrand - Fotolia.com

© antonbrand – Fotolia.com

Jay, I found your recent commentary on AA’s Direct Connect initiative quite interesting. Frankly, I was hoping that it would have taken much longer before anyone found out that of the various Farelogix teams, the one working on the AA Direct Connect project is actually made up of zombies.

Although I am tempted to spend some time correcting the record on the parts of my quotes that were left out or taken out of context, I recognize that the piece was based on opinion, and not actual reporting. That said, I was surprised that you left out commentary on some very relevant issues, but maybe additional commentary from you is forthcoming. With that in mind, I wanted to offer the following possible topics for your consideration:

Perhaps in a future piece you could share your thoughts on why when our industry is clamoring for transparency (transparency purported to be available through the GDS, mind you), Sabre—a distribution intermediary with a large US market share that is trusted and paid by American Airlines and other airlines to distribute their product—was able to secretly bias travel agency displays against American Airlines in retaliation for its Direct Connect initiative. It would be great to hear your views on the state of our industry’s competitive landscape when it seems that some travel agencies were coerced to participate in this secret, Sabre-led boycott of American Airlines—a boycott that was detrimental to American Airlines, its corporate and leisure consumers, and its airline partners. According to alleged internal Sabre emails and documents, this boycott was specifically designed to punish American Airlines for its Direct Connect initiative. Maybe some Sabre executive will grant you an open interview on these topics… or at least respond to email questions.  Read the rest of this entry »

I could not help but think of this famous Mark Twain quote as I read Mark Pestronk’s article published in the recent issue of Travel Weekly. I’ve known Mark since my days with System One, but  I was a bit surprised by his statement about Direct Connect being “a failure” and his related references to it being “vaporware.” Now, I can only assume that Mr. Pestronk is not referring to the Direct Connect developed by Farelogix. Because our Direct Connect is fully certified by ARC and BSP in over 60 countries, deployed by 15 airlines around the world, accessed by over 5000 travel agencies in 40 countries, and used by millions of passengers (knowingly or not) to fly on those airlines. And I certainly believe these numbers would be significantly higher were it not for the concerted efforts of a few in our industry to stall the progress of the Farelogix Direct Connect.

It certainly is no longer any secret that at least one GDS has wanted to stop Farelogix and its Direct Connect deployment. Quoting testimony from the recent American Airlines v. Sabre case (transcripts available at http://www.farelogix.com/transcripts.php), just as Mr. Pestronk did, we now know this GDS wanted Farelogix to go away. As stated in internal emails from Sabre,“Our goal is one—not let Farelogix spread any further, and number two, to discontinue the current locations.”[1] Another read, “We want to make sure we are still pushing on the strategy of shutting down Farelogix.”[2]

 

© iQoncept – Fotolia.com

 I have to ask, why would one GDS go to the lengths of “shutting down Farelogix” if Direct Connect is, as reported in Travel Weekly, “a failure” and “vaporware?”

Since I can’t answer the particular question as to what would motivate a GDS to want to shut down Farelogix, what I can do is propose an offer to Mr. Pestronk, or anyone else that writes about or wants to write about Direct Connect, to come to our office in Miami for a couple of hours where we will provide a fully transparent and in-depth review of the Farelogix Direct Connect. That way the next time anyone writes about Direct Connect, he or she can reliably report on the facts.

 



[1] October 24th p41, lines 18-21

[2] October 24th p41, lines 24-25

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While those among us in the industry may have plenty of disagreements, there certainly seems to be one thing we all agree is important: Transparency!

Read any industry article of late and chances are you’ll see a tremendous emphasis on Transparency from travel agencies, GDSs, airlines and other suppliers, ATPCo, ASTA, ACTE, GBTA, BTC, Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, ARTA, ETTSA, ITSA, IATA, ARC, the Department of Transportation, many others who support it, favor it, and even demand it.

What do we want? Transparency! When do we want it? Now! Transparency is essential. And hey, it looks like we finally have something we can all agree on. Or have we…?

Read the rest of this entry »

As more and more details emerge from the American Airlines v. Sabre trial, it is clear that Sabre made a concerted effort to neutralize AA’s Direct Connect strategy and the technology behind it. In case you need a refresher, Direct Connect is a technology that allows airlines to sell their products and services in a personalized and dynamic way to the indirect channel via a connection through a GDS (e.g., Travelport and Air Canada) or bypassing the GDS.

To Sabre’s credit, it appears from the court documents that they knew the industry was moving in this direction as far back as 2006. However, as it was deemed a threat to Sabre’s business model[1], a plan was put in place to make things so untenable for American that they would decide to drop the strategy.

According to the transcripts, in 2006, investors in Sabre had a plan, named Project Sovereign, to sell or go public with the company within the next five years[2]. But, doing so anticipated that potential competitors be “unlikely to be as viable next time around” and this meant doing “one thing: Delay or destroy American’s Direct Connect.”[3] How did Sabre plan to do this? Among other tactics—a secret boycott[4]. Read the rest of this entry »

I recently read The Beat’s article about Sabre’s plans to beef-up its virtual meetings product with booking capabilities. Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me. But given that the majority of Sabre’s (and the other GDSs’) revenue today comes from airlines, one could probably safely assume that the funds needed by the GDS to invest in and develop this new business line came directly from the airlines. Which is the basis of my question: Should the GDS be in the teleconferencing business? After all, it is a business that is in direct competition with their core customers’ business. More Teleconferencing = Less Airline Travel.

One really doesn’t even have to think too long about this question. The answer is obvious.

© coramax - Fotolia.com

Read the rest of this entry »

With a new year upon us, the air [pun intended] is filling with talk of Airline Strategy 2012. With hundreds of airlines all over the world, there is no doubt a tremendous amount of strategic discussion going on. And I’ll go out on a limb and say at least some of that discussion centers on Airline Direct Connect Distribution. But with all the information, misinformation, uncertainty, and controversy pinned to Airline Direct Connect, how is anyone really in a position to determine if it is, in fact, the right move?

In our never-ending quest for transparency, we thought we would do our part to help answer the question, Is a Direct Connect Strategy Right for Me? And as with any good quandary, providing answers to a simple set of statements can provide you with instant enlightenment and direction. After all, this methodology has been employed by many social sites and popular magazines to determine if our love lives could be better, if he’s cheating on us, and how sexy our names are. So it can clearly solve something as simple as, Is Direct Connect Right For Me? Read the rest of this entry »

As you may know, I had the privilege of speaking at the FVW Kongress in Cologne, Germany in September. I must say, it ended up being one of my favorite presentations I have ever given. I was finally able to be on the same stage as Mr. Mitchell and have an in-depth debate on Direct Connect. Really, it was great.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it, or if you just really liked the presentation, I have made it available for download along with some slide notes. But please note that these were not my actual notes, but just a recollection of what I presented. And being on the wrong side of 50, it is definitely not verbatim.

Enjoy!

FVW Congress Presentation

Presentation Notes

It finally happened. We had the opportunity to go head-to-head, on stage, in front of some of the world’s most influential travel people. The topic? I won’t make you guess. It was titled Direct Connect: Horror Vision or New Option for Ticket Sales, but unofficially billed as the “Duel in Deutschland.” Don’t believe me? See below.

Okay, so we made that video up. But the “duel” did actually take place, but in Cologne, Germany. What? Safer on foreign soil? Believe it or not, this “duel” was the first time I remember meeting Kevin Mitchell in person. He’s not a bad guy, though I disagree with most of his assessment of Direct Connect, but that’s okay. I just think he might be getting his information about Direct Connect from the wrong places. It’s kind of like saying you don’t like a movie based on what other people have told you. Or saying you don’t like a certain food before you’ve even tried it. You know, like broccoli. Where have I heard that before?? But I digress.

But it did make me think. Why did it take a foreign travel publication to bring the two of us together when we (the US travel industry) have so many forums, conferences, panels, and seminars? Aren’t we the ones embroiled emotionally, operationally, and even legally in the Direct Connect movement? Kudos to FVW for making it happen.

As for the actual “duel”, I did agree with Mitchell on a few of his points, although, not many.

I agreed when he said competition and free markets is good and the customer will ultimately decide whether a product is good or not. Yet all I see is that a tremendous amount of effort being spent by a number of folks attempting to stifle competition and keep Direct Connect out of the potential customers hands. Why?

I also agreed with Mr. Mitchell when he stated hidden fees and lack of transparency are bad for our industry, or for any industry for that matter. But to equate those attributes to Direct Connect, when I presented facts and visuals that Direct Connect actually provides customers with more transparency and more choices than they get today, seemed a bit strange to me. That’s when I realized that most likely Mr. Mitchell has probably never even seen a real-life Direct Connect.

So I invited him to come to our office for an honest to goodness, fully transparent, deep dive into Direct Connect. Who knows, he might even like it after he tries it. It has to be better than broccoli.

Presentation from FVW Congress to follow…