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Thursday, April 02, 2009

When love affairs go wrong

No, this doesn't seem like a business blog, but it is. The travel industry and all of those involved with distribution and the technology behind it have spent the last 30 years in a love affair with the airlines and the airline traveler.

Now, like all love affairs, there have been times of spats and "break up" and the return to the comfort of the familiar.

The airlines and the air traveler have been very good to what has become a multi-billion dollar distribution industry. Online players, the GDSs, the technical intermediaries, the content companies have all benefited.

But the party is over. The love affair is waning. In private (and often in public) the airlines are heard to voice their true feelings - they want to bypass everyone and cater to the consumer directly.

And by the way, the air traveler only represents 15% of all travelers in the US and worse, just 8% of all overnight travelers. So why the passion? It has been low hanging fruit for nearly 30 years. And, it has been easy. Point to point. Destination focus. Where are you going and when.

But our industry has totally ignored that same traveler when they make the decision to drive. That's right, it is NOT a different market. Just a different decision from the same person under different circumstances.

More tomorrow. Have to get on one of those nasty airplanes to get home...... ok, it is quicker, but truly, I would rather have the time to drive through the countryside and see what our beautiful country has to offer.

Ciao.
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