Distribution Sanity Check

Nobody knows what the ultimate outcome of the current American-GDS-agency flap will be. From informal discussions I've had with travel managers and TMCs, it seems like most folks think--and hope--that the problem will resolve itself in the pending round of GDS negotiations, similar to the way the GDS New Entrants (GNEs) evaporated after the last round.

I'm not so sure. Try this sanity check. [more] Go home and try describing the distribution process to a friend or family member who doesn't work in the travel industry. Start with the airlines and describe how information flows from their inventory systems, through the GDS, ATPCO, TMCs, travel managers and travelers.

Don't forget to describe how the money flows from airline to GDS to customers. You will almost certainly need a piece of paper or a whiteboard to keep it all straight. You'll know they understand it when their eyes widen and they say something like: "You mean customers get paid to use these systems?"

I don't know who will "win" the current round of GDS negotiations. But what I know for sure is that the system is too complicated, and that it won't be that way in 20 years. Just like retail and mortgage rates, it will get simpler and consumers will get cheaper stuff.

The only questions then are when and how?