Jeff Klee, CEO of Amtrav, a Los Angeles-based TMC that also operates CheapAir.com, weighs in American Airlines' new fare bundles.
Regarding your post, "New AA Fare Bundles Complicate Corporate Discounts, Online Booking," I know a lot of my colleagues are suspicious of or disgruntled about American's new pricing structure but I think a lot of that frustration is misguided. It is true that changes like this create a development burden and cost time and resources, but I think we should keep that in perspective. New airline products are coming no matter what__the airlines would be foolish to ignore the potential revenue. American, to their credit, made these new bundles freely available through existing distribution channels, which is exactly what so many of us have been clamoring for. And while there is clearly an implementation cost, in the scheme of things that cost is minor; it took us just a few days of development work to be able to offer these fare bundles on our Amtrav corporate booking tool, as well as on CheapAir.com.
But the larger point is that these bundles push us in a direction that in the long run is very healthy for the industry. We're all painfully aware of the philosophical differences on distribution that consume a lot of energy and time. Those battles are mostly about how to divide up an existing pie. American's fare bundles represent the best path forward that I have seen in a long time where we can all focus together on actually growing the pie.
To that end, there is no reason why OTAs, TMCs and GDSs cannot all play a constructive role in raising customer awareness of these upsells, presenting them in ways that are appealing, and facilitating quick/easy purchases so that we drive incremental revenue for the airlines. Travel agencies and GDSs should welcome and embrace any airline initiative that gives us the opportunity to demonstrate value by marketing something beyond just a base air fare. The more successful we are in that regard, the easier some of the other conversations should become.
~ Amtrav CEO Jeff Klee