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

Posts Tagged ‘Open AXIS Group’

You know me. I love to talk airline distribution any chance I get. The other day I was involved in a discussion about the traditional distribution model, often times referred to as the Push model. The Push model, currently employed by intermediaries like the GDSs that feed information to most travel agencies, is essentially a static model where the GDSs gather basic airline components (schedules from OAG, fares from ATPCO, and fare class availability from the airlines) and store this information in their own systems. This stored information is periodically updated from the aforementioned sources. This data then patiently waits for a travel agent to make a travel request inquiry to the GDS. The GDS (not the airline) then creates the actual airline offer for the agent on behalf of the airline, often times with little or no input from the airline until well after the sale is made.

The Push model has served the industry well in the past and made all the sense in the world at the time it was developed. However, today’s Push model is a technological byproduct of an era when electronic communications and bandwidth were expensive (pre-Internet), system-to-system connectivity was complex, temperamental, and expensive (pre-APIs and web services), and airline content was little more than a published set of schedules and fares combined with availability based on fare classes.

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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 »

In case you haven’t heard, the Open AXIS Group just released a new white paper titled Distribution 2.0, Direct Connect and Travel Sellers: A Reference for Travel Agents. As a member of the Open AXIS Group, we fully support this measure of attempting to provide in-depth and clear-cut information when it comes to the modernization of the travel supply chain.

I encourage all of you who work in travel, especially travel agents, to go to, download the paper, and, hopefully, have your questions answered about the Distribution 2.0 movement.

I’d write more, but I’m still too stuffed from all the hot dogs and apple pie I ate over the 4th of July weekend. Ugh…

Download Distribution 2.0, Direct Connect and Travel Sellers: A Reference for Travel Agents

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Direct Connect debate continues to heat up. Bobblehead hasn’t been living under a rock, he’s just been… out of the country. But with all the hoopla surrounding Direct Connect, and some of the questions GDSs are telling their agencies to ask the airlines, I figured it’d be a good time to recall our bobbly buddy to lay some Direct Connect answers on you.


Ask the Question 12

Launches SPRK Agent Website and YouTube Channel in Response to Increasing Customer Demand

MIAMI — June 16, 2011 — Farelogix has released the latest version of SPRK, the company’s travel agency desktop tool that enables agencies to source content from multiple travel providers including airline Direct Connect. SPRK, initially introduced to the travel agency market a little over a year ago, is being utilized by a growing number of travel agencies, including several OTAs.

In response to increased interest in SPRK, Farelogix has also launched a new website,, where interested travel agencies can watch demonstration videos (also found on the SPRK Agent YouTube channel:, explore SPRK documentation, make product suggestions, and ultimately track enhancement schedules and software improvements. In addition, registered SPRK agents now have access to a users-only portal, which includes latest product notifications, documentation, maintenance schedules and, coming soon, a new series of webinars for training purposes.

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The Department of Transportation is delaying any decision to force airlines to utilize the GDS-mandated methodology for selling and displaying ancillary services. They are delaying their decision because they “lack additional information about costs, benefits and consequences” of requiring carriers to provide that information to the GDSs. It’s easy to understand why DOT has more questions than answers. We can just look at some of the recent comments by industry brass. Airlines now support a standardized XML for their direct connect whereby the airline can, in a fully transparent way, offer its best and most relevant product. What is standing in the way of the GDS simply connecting to those airlines? The GDS clearly express it is not a technology or “XML” issue, as recently stated by a Sabre official in The Beat. Read the rest of this entry »

I just read the Beat article where once again Sabre is attacking the new airline connectivity direct connect model as a “one-off” solution. Ok, we get it. It is a false statement, but we get it. Remember, if you will, at first it was all about a lack of standards with direct connect, and the GDSs and their coalitions could not support individual airline direct connects. Airlines responded by adopting a standardized and modern XML schema and created the industry standards body, Open Axis Group, to manage it. The GDSs have refused to join the group. Why? I guess it was the wrong standard (not theirs, even though they still don’t have a common standard).

So now the GDSs beat a new anti-direct connect drum: These direct connects are nothing but “one-off” solutions. Again, false. Read the rest of this entry »

The Air Canada and American Airlines direct connects use the same technology and the same XML standards from Open AXIS Group. So why does Travelport claim one is an “industry first” and the other “material inferior?” Ask the Question!

I attended the recent PhoCusWright Conference, where the underlying theme was Chaos. Certainly we don’t need more chaos in our industry, but as always, PhoCusWright put on a very good show. I did the usual networking and listening to the many pundits and sponsored speakers, but one in particular hit home with me: Jeff Clarke, CEO of Travelport, made a number of industry observations and statements during his interview presentation. Two statements in particular were strikingly significant in terms of how Travelport and other incumbent players view the world of distribution. Read the rest of this entry »