Before reading his post, I had just finished posting this quote to my status on the various social media networks. It is completely apropos to begin my response with this statement by Johann Gottfried Von Herder from the 18th century.
"Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant; there is a fuel within us which needs to be ignited with sparks."
The notion of innovation always begins with a spark and sparks can be fuel or they can bring devastation. I am convinced that it all begins in the mind. And what we need right now in the industry is a meeting of the minds, not the death of innovation or the squelching of the sparks.
While the current discussions of Direct Connect are creating sparks, DC is not a new concept. It has worked well in the hospitality industry and it has even co-existed well with the GDS and the agency community. Pegasus Solutions (then known as THISCO) began as a "distribution switch", to allow hoteliers to focus on putting heads in beds and not to have to worry about the connectivity to the outside world. They would connect once to PEGS and PEGS would connect to the GDSs and to the OTAs and the tour operator/wholesaler world. Yes, there was disintermediation, but there was also innovation and expansion of reach for everyone from the large chain down to the independent.
I see the distribution choices being made by AA in this current battle to be much the same as that made by the hoteliers that founded Pegasus - connect once and have everyone come to that one connecting point and let the distribution partner manage the conversations to the outside world.
The airlines are indeed expanding their product, much in the same way that the hoteliers did with the addition of wifi and paying for late checkout, to reduce the commoditization of their product. It will be up to those linking to the new airline "switch" to take advantage of the new features -- or not.
"Man begins with a concept in his mind, something he believes he is able to accomplish. He joins his will and his intellect to his imagination and then expectation sees it through." Cindy Trimm, Commanding Your Morning
I for one am picturing the sparks of the current debate as fuel to a new engine for our industry, one that rewards innovation and recognizes hard work and relationships - one that seeks a win-win-win result for each of the players in this complicated ecosystem that we call the travel industry.