Having followed The Beat's blog on airline distribution issues for quite a while, I thought it was time for the "indirect channel" to make its voice better heard. Travel agencies and TMCs continue to experience confusion about direct connect, alternative distribution, and ancillary fee data. The very loud drone from the "Open Allies" continues to propagate myths about the alleged nefarious plans of the airlines to withhold data, hide fees, and essentially hoodwink the traveling public. [more]
I can't say that I blame agencies, my constituents, for not knowing more about this key distribution matter, because the real and highly understandable reasons behind direct connect haven't risen to the surface effectively enough or are shouted down by the well-oiled GDS collective when they do.
When presented with a fair and balanced overview of the issues and stakes, travel agencies are guarded in supporting the GDS status quo, and in fact, highly resistant to the idea that government intervention may inhibit airlines and GDSs from negotiating equitably. Agents are fearful that any lack of airline/GDS negotiations will leave travel agents holding the bag.
I make no bones about my support for direct connect and for the freedom of agencies to choose and deploy whatever supplier technology and commercial terms work best for the parties involved. What I cannot support is any government forcing any industry into ways of doing business, which, in the name of "transparency" and "comparativeness," is itself a ruse to maintain or exact better financial standing for only one party - in our case - GDSs and their outdated, excessively costly technology.
Bruce Bishins, CTC
Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA)
Chief Executive Officer
Association of Retail Travel Agents - Canada