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Friday, July 22, 2011

Answer Series: AGENCY AND CLIENT PERSPECTIVE - What do I have to do if I have multiple GDS/booking sources?

In our industry, we are a complicated ecosystem.  When one part of the ecosystem makes a move, another part of the ecosystem is impacted.

Our question today is "What do I have to do if I have multiple GDS/booking sources?

There are significant operational implications to having multiple booking sources.  Everyone is impacted, from the airline, to the GDS, to the agency, to the consumer.

Today we are looking at the agency and the traveler.

AGENCY PERSPECTIVE 

A multi-GDS/booking system environment is anything but simple, but as mentioned yesterday, agencies have truly been coping with this for decades, but not on the scale contemplated if someone like AA pulls out of one or more GDSs.

Following are some of the challenges/requirements:

  • Consolidate booking and itinerary information from multiple sources - this may require accessing the airline inventory on the airline's web site/agency portal or adding the third party system dictated by the carrier (which may not be the same one dictated by other carriers later on)
  • Alternatively, you may look at deploying a third-party itinerary aggregation tool, such as TripIt or Traxo
  • Manage customers that are interlining - booking all interline segments in the same PNR if at all possible to avoid customer service issues
  • Be aware of the impact on your existing GDS agreements, and in particular the productivity pricing/financial assistance and shortfall clauses
  • Manage quality control processes on multiple platforms
  • Organize purchasing history for their clients
  • Manage accounting and billing, as well as expense reporting support for your corporate clients.  This now includes providing information on ancillary fees (baggage, seat reservations and other product elements that are not currently being handled through the GDS)
Much of this typically requires an agency/TMC to have an internal IT team, which is virtually non-existent when you get down below the top agency tier.

TRAVELER PERSPECTIVE
If you are used to having a consolidated itinerary and seamless service from your travel agency, those days may soon be over.   If they want to continue to use an agency, travelers may now have to think about:
  • Having more than one itinerary document (much like if you book yourself via the Internet)
  • Using a service like TripIt or Traxo to do the consolidation if your agency does not do this for you
  • If on a connecting flight (if you have been given two separate itineraries), realizing that even if that carrier is an alliance or code-share partner with the primary carrier, you may not be able to check your bags all the way through or have the connecting airline be aware that your inbound flight is delayed.
One thing we can always count on is change.   Let's hope that it is the kind that produces progress!


Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.

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