The Beat Live ... One Little Worry

The Beat Live wrapped up almost two weeks ago. It was a great forum as always, and anyone who hasn't attended should, because you won't find another venue with so much candor on display. One thing that still bothers me, though, was that it became de rigeur to mention how tired 'we' all are of direct connect discussions. [more]

While I understand conference burnout, I disagree with these dismissals of 'direct-connect-ancillary-services' (which are flip sides of the same issue). The issue won't go away, and remains critically important to everyone in our business not only as a blood-sport contest between airline and GDS giants, but also because it highlights the:

- need for more dynamic technology that gives airlines the same flexibility in media and message as any other online seller.

- incongruities of the current economic model where airlines pay the GDS enough money that they can actually pay agencies to use the technology. (Sure it happens in retail, but its all driven by suppliers, not middlemen).

- lack of TMC transparency regarding GDS fees and other airline revenue (with one laudable exception at the The Beat Live!)

- reluctance of TMCs to innovate to provide 'full content' to their corporate customers even if it's not served up to them in the GDS.

- importance of third-party (and some TMC) technology innovations that can not only display full airline content (schedule, fare and availability in addition to ancillary services) in one place, but also allow corporations to manage, report, and track policy compliance just like they now do with air fares and hotel rates.

- challenge that corporate buyers have to get a seat at the table, or even to see who truly has their interests at heart.

- (last but definitely not least) airlines' apparent lack of understanding of travel management techniques and objectives.

This issue isn't going away, and it should not. It highlights too many irrational inefficiencies in our business that inevitably will be swept away.