The Beat Letters: On DOT Proposal Requiring Fee Disclosures In GDSs

Regarding "Airlines Slam DOT Proposal Requiring Fee Disclosures In GDSs" published last week in The Beat, Pass Consulting's Michael Strauss writes ...
I cannot believe that we are seriously discussing this issue. To ask for governmental regulation as a result of the shortcomings of some market players in implementing innovative technology seems ridiculous to me!

As a matter of fact, as a business or travel management company, apparently I cannot freely decide where I get my content from as I'm locked into my GDS contract. Nor can I freely decide which technology vendor I use, as all of these entities need a developer's agreement. Certain instances also want to mandate which fare I book (due to their content availability) and thus influence my decisions yet again. In which other industry does each and every distributor have to have the exact same product? How come you can get different products at BestBuy, Lowes, Walmart or Brandsmart then?

Fragmentation is caused by contractual commitments and not by technical limitations as there are many applications available today that enable content aggregation. If every system in the value chain was open and similarly accessible, as direct connect channels of the airlines appear to be, then technology will manage to resolve all other challenges. Why do I say this time and time again, when, as an authorized developer of all global distribution systems, we even jeopardize our own market with our demand for open systems? I'd rather do business in a healthy, competitive environment than continue to negotiate for years to come.

We have told airlines that they need to distinguish themselves or else they become "bus drivers" in the air--and now that some of them do it, we don't like it. The market itself, not regulatory institutions or incumbent companies should decide about an idea being good or bad. Has IBM seriously considered Microsoft Windows a competitor in the early 90s? Why did Yahoo not come up with a search engine like Google? Who seriously thought that Facebook would become this big? Hardly any ground-breaking innovation was created by a large organization. However, as long as we all agree that Microsoft, Google and Facebook are recognizable additions to our lives, we should embrace further innovations. A first step is to welcome any idea--be it bad or good--and the market will decide about its success. Relax, as it's not your money that is being burned as long as you don't invest in those ideas.

If you are concerned that the regular traveler is not smart enough to understand and compare apples to apples, how is he able to buy a refrigerator, a computer or a car without Big Brother standing by? And do we really think that all cars, computers or kitchen appliances must look the same and have similar features? These are conditions which were present in Eastern Germany before the wall was torn down. Technology is here to enable business models - models which we probably don't even know today. Only a little over a decade ago you would have carried around 4 cell phones of the size of a brick as you had different standards and frequencies in different countries. Manufacturers needed to accommodate that and they did ... so can we!

~ Pass Consulting's Michael Strauss