Standardized Creativity? Homogenous Product Differentiation? The Quest For Control Of The Airline Product

Farelogix is highly supportive of management and settlement standards being developed around the merchandising process.  We have been the leaders in developing the first ARC certified EMD (both EMD-A and EMD-S), which is in full accordance to the IATA reporting standard. Farelogix merchandising solutions also fully support ATPCO fare filings if airlines opt to use ATP instead of alternative merchandising solutions in the market.

However, Farelogix is concerned about the recent announcement to extend the "standards movement" to the actual airline product definition and sales process.
We believe this will impose unreasonable restrictions on what a travel supplier can offer, how it is priced, when and to whom it is offered, and how it is presented. Put another way: the choice of how a travel supplier wants to differentiate its product and how its customers want to buy the product(s) should be a two-way collaboration, not a dictated process by the distribution medium.  In this context, the use of the term "standards" is really another way of saying that the distribution channel wants to maintain control of how the supplier airline defines, prices and sells its product. "Be creative, Mr. Airline, but don't color outside the lines!"

A distribution channel is simply that ... a distribution channel. If a particular channel is unwilling to support the way the supplier wants to distribute its product, then the entire supply chain faces a problem. In this case, if airlines can not differentiate and control their product offering adequately through the traditional GDS distribution channel, then travel agencies will not likely be in a position to differentiate the end product to their customers, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. This will undoubtedly force travel suppliers to adopt alternative distribution channels that meet their and their customer's needs. This is what happened with the development of the supplier websites and it is looking more likely that is about to happen again with merchandising and ancillary product distribution.

Farelogix sees a much simpler solution. Allow more flexibility, differentiation and control to the travel suppliers who seek to control the offering, pricing, and presentation of their products.  Allow travel management companies more flexibility to differentiate their offerings including access the broader scope of airline product (even when that means coloring outside the lines!) And yes, of course, use appropriate standards that allow current systems to continue to work and flow smoothly. But above all, avoid imposing limits on product differentiation, control and creativity that will ultimately result in a lose-lose scenario for everyone.