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

Posts Tagged ‘XML’

We recently announced the launch of NDC-Xpress, a technology solution that enables airlines to implement New Distribution Capability (NDC) with minimal risk and unprecedented speed to market. Building on the core technologies of the flagship FLX Airline Commerce Gateway, NDC-Xpress delivers airline-controlled merchandising, pricing, and API distribution in a SaaS model, with implementation delivered in less than six months using the latest NDC schemas (Version 1.1).

NDC-Xpress logoNDC-Xpress enables airlines to immediately begin generating new revenue streams from the sale of value-added services in the agency channel. In addition, significant cost savings may be realized through the delivery of content across multiple indirect channel outlets (i.e., GDSs and other third party aggregators) via a single, standardized XML API inclusive of a common and supported implementation structure.

“The focus of NDC-Xpress is speed to market for the long overdue delivery of airline ancillaries, merchandising, rich content, and value-added services in the agency channel,” said Jim Davidson, President and CEO at Farelogix. “With the final approval of IATA’s Resolution 787 (NDC) by the US Department of Transportation and the competitive push for airlines to offer dynamic and differentiated content across channels – beyond airline.com – the timing could not be better for Farelogix to deliver a solution that brings NDC to life, quickly and to the benefit of all parties.” Read the rest of this entry »

I had the privilege of presenting to the fine folks of the FBTA last week. This is not my first time with the group, and knowing they can be a little feisty at times, I came prepared to bare all. There is no holding back with this group. They remind me a lot of the group from LABTA.

My presentation was all about airline ancillary services and the impact these might have on corporate travel managers and their travelers. Whether it’s a new bundled airline product freshly negotiated by savvy travel managers or a set of company-authorized a-la-carte optional services based on trip type or duration, a whole new world has opened up for today’s corporate travel managers… if they want it that is. I bet most will, but I suspect some will run for the hills because navigating in this new world where the corporate travel managers are negotiating the travel experience is new territory. The days of simply negotiating a discount in return for volume are long gone.  And simply getting your travelers an entry-level frequent flyer status just won’t cut it.

As is typical with this group, presenters only get through their first three slides before the “Hands of Challenge” arise. No different this day, but I expected and prepared for it. In reality, this is really what I love about this group—dialogue! Ok, maybe more like pointed questions, but I love it anyway. At first they seemed very school-like by raising their hands and politely waiting their turn to ask, but that only lasted a few minutes. We talked about how airlines are working hard to create an “experience” for their travelers rather than just a trip, and how travel managers now have the ability to influence their travelers experience by engaging airlines to customize product bundles based on type of travel—say a training venue versus a sales trip halfway around the world for the top salespeople in the organization.  Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

© 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 »

We all know that direct connects have many benefits: reduced distribution costs, pricing transparency, a more personalized shopping experience. But again, you already know all about those, so I want to talk to you today about a benefit many seem to be overlooking: EMD & Reporting.

Lately, I’ve been hearing an awful lot about the need for an accessible standard metric when it comes to the purchasing of ancillary services. It’s a corporate travel manager’s headache… having access to detailed purchase data. For years the travel industry has looked for the credit card industry to solve the problem. Stop looking, I say… if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not going to happen.

So back to the corporate travel manager. How does she know if Business Traveler Smith is charging a checked bag or an in-flight cocktail? Wi-Fi to do work or another bottle of Pinot? Business Traveler Smith has a bit of a reputation for over-serving himself at the Christmas party. How does the travel manager know that he’s not doing the same thing on the company dime every time he gets sent to Detroit? Okay, a bit of tongue and check here but in real corporate traveler manager life, corporations want the best ROI on their travel spending and that includes wanting to pay for necessities and agreed traveler convenience items and not, in this case, Business Traveler Smith’s love of white wine. Airline ancillaries are quickly becoming a way of life in corporate travel management, which is all well and good, but it’s no help if the corporations can’t track them. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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!