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While the long-term impact of the recent announcements will take
months to become clear, they are among the most significant
movements so far in the evolution of travel distribution channels
and raise the stakes for agencies vying to map a technology
Under pressure from airlines to cut contract costs and agencies
to boost content, traditional GDS have moved to broaden offerings
as new travel distributors also seek a piece of the market. In a
move that could serve to ease the pressure, Sabre Holdings and
Amadeus have partnered to provide agents essentially back-up
booking ability across the two GDS for airlines that choose not to
participate in one of the companies’ systems.
Sabre said the move does not affect its ongoing contract talks
with airlines it also announced a new multi-year full content
agreement with KLM Royal Dutch Airline but is designed to avoid
service disruptions and ensure agents broad access to content.
But even as the traditionally competitive GDS announced the
deal, Star Alliance announced that through partnerships with
Farelogix and Lufthansa Systems, it plans this year to create and
launch in Europe an alternative distribution channel to cut costs
(see Q&A, right).
The new Alternative Content Access Platform will be designed to
work independently or with agencies’ current operating systems.
“Our solid knowledge of core airline systems and the ability to
connect these systems flexibly to any booking platform or
distribution channel allows us to play a key role in shaping the
ACAP platform of Star Alliance,” said Anselm Eggert, senior vice
president, Passenger Airline Solutions, Lufthansa Systems.
Q&A: James Davidson, President and CEO, Farelogix
Seeking to cut global distribution system costs, Star Alliance
announced last month that it is partnering with Farelogix Inc. and
Lufthansa Systems to debut an alternative distribution channel
later this year.
Jim Davidson, president and CEO of Farelogix Inc., which has
been working with Lufthansa since last fall, spoke with TravelAge
West about the announcement and the changing GDS landscape.
Q:What is the time frame for the rollout of the Alternative
Content Access Platform?
A: Actually now we have to work with all the different airlines to
develop it so it will depend on their readiness to do the
connections. It also takes testing and will depend on market
readiness to respond. But I suspect you could see some changes in
the second half of this year.
Q:How does Farelogix fit into the GDS landscape?
A: We began working with Lufthansa last fall and already work with
a variety of airlines in North America including Continental, Delta
and Northwest, as well as travel agencies and suppliers, including
Navigant and Globus and Cosmos. Now we’re aiming global. We cover
the world in technology and support. We’re a relatively small
company in North America but now with Lufthansa and Star Alliance
we’ll have presence [internationally].
Q:How would you address the view that alternative distribution
channels are contributing to the fragmentation of travel
A: Fragmentation is a way of life. The GDS already offer different
content among them, and suppliers use various distribution channels
already. The industry always will be fragmented. The key for this
industry, in particular, is to embrace the technology to make it
work on both the supply and sell sides.
Q:What thoughts do you have for agencies faced with a growing
number of channel options?
A: The key is to get under the rhetoric and see what people have.
That’s the real test, to get through the hype. Tell Brand A, B, C,
‘You come in here and tell me how to do things and I’ll judge from
there.’ Agencies are not buying bad technology. We’re finding we
have to do much more work in every sell. Agencies are increasingly
savvy and that’s what they need to be.
Trisept Solutions, creator of VAX VacationAccess, recently
unveiled VAX VacationAccess Cruise, aggregating 10 leading cruise
lines into a single booking engine allowing agents to book sailings
up to 18 months in advance and add air as an option.
Agents also can e-mail or print itineraries and ship content,
including detailed deck plans and cabin photos to their clients.
Also, an agency’s preferred rates and commissions pass through from
the cruise vendor based on the agency’s office ID.
Cruise lines available on VAX VacationAccess Cruise include
Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard,
Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises,
Royal Caribbean Cruises, Windstar Cruises and The Yachts of
SITA has launched AgentSelect, an end-to-end solution for
agencies, tour operators and travel management companies to help
organizations migrate from legacy networks to lower-cost IP
Pricing is subscription-based with a fixed monthly fee offered
on a lease contract that flexes based on customer need and offers
24-7 customer service.
The technology package offers low-cost, business-grade Internet
services in over 120 countries including initial set-up and ongoing
network management; an option to pre-install SITA’s multi-host
software designed specifically to allow access to GDS; and a full
XP Professional platform for end-user’s requiring access to office
applications such as the Microsoft Office suite.