Many times I am asked: “What are the characteristics of a good, flexible, modern Online Booking Tool (OBT) for travel?” Some of the existing ones carry a lot of baggage, which makes them less flexible. They are and in constant competition with rapidly changing consumer applications. But those ‘legacy’ OBTs provide stability, even though they may not look nice. Manufacturers try to facelift or re-develop them, but I ask the question: Does a business travel online booking tool really need to be fancy and compete with all the consumer apps out there? Continue reading
In October 2017, I wrote a blog about the technical and commercial challenges of NDC. The title was “The reality behind NDC: Why NDC won’t break down the GDS oligopoly – yet”; A year later, I guess one can say for sure that the last word “yet” of the title can be erased. The New Distribution Capability – or in short NDC – will come that’s for sure, but primarily through the GDSs! Continue reading
It sounds so easy to use NDC, but the reality is: Not too many bookings are being made. Why?
Airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia and American have announced direct connect initiatives via NDC. They either introduced charges to book through a GDS or will be offering additional capabilities if booked directly through their NDC interface. When it comes to costs (or certain fares not being available in preferred channels) it affects everybody. It sounds so easy to use NDC, but the reality is: Not too many bookings are being made – especially for business travel. Why is that? Continue reading
Travel topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand the difference between fares, rates and tariffs.
As a definition, a fare is usually referenced to in air travel while rates are used with hotels. According to ATPCO (Airline Tariff Publishing Company), a fare is not only the amount a passenger pays, it also contains the conditions for travel at this amount – that are the rules and/or restrictions that must be satisfied in order to qualify for a specific fare. Continue reading
Earlier I talked about the structure of the travel industry. We saw how the industry can be divided into five parts: Suppliers, inventory management, distribution, sales and market.
Today I would like to just focus on the distribution and the inventory management and therefore on the differences between CRS (central reservation systems) and GDS (global distribution systems).
Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, the Bitcoin & Ether rollercoaster – is it a digital revolution or a fake hype? What does it mean for travel? Are you missing out?
The frequent reader of this blog knows that I’m not blogging every other week in order to boost the Google ranking of this blog, but I rather try to dive deep into topics that may matter and provide as much information as possible to explain the topic. My goal is to create the articles of this blog as a one-stop shop in order to get a comprehensive overview of the topic. So, this time I want to touch another hype topic: Blockchain (in travel). Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: What is a ‘married segment’ and how is it related to the terms ‘stopover’ and ‘connection’?
A question on my blog post “What Is a Passenger Service System?” made me realize there are still a few terms which are not explained in a simple way on the internet. While there are tons of suggestions what agents can do to take advantage of ‘married segments’, I couldn’t find it explained in a simple way. Hence, I just wrote a dummy article about it. Continue reading
A German magazine reports that politics may pave the way for ground transportation intermediaries such as Uber, Lyft etc. to legally challenge the legacy taxi monopoly in Germany – the largest travel market in Europe.
Laws from the 1960s or even 1930s are not appropriate for innovation as part of the digital age. Some laws protect an industry that failed to innovate over years. Also, chauffeur driven ride sharing is currently not allowed in Germany, even though it would relieve heavily congested road significantly. Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand what incentives, commission & overrides are.
I spoke a lot about Incentives, commission & overrides in my blog post about the US Airways vs. Sabre trial, where many numbers came to light and provided insight into the money flow here. But this time, I want to focus on what those numbers actually mean. Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand what active and passive segments are.
First of all, what is a segment? We often talk about booking, segments, etc. but I have not yet provided a clear explanation of a segment other than that a booking on average has 2 ½ segments. Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: What is the difference between booking, waitlisting, ticketing, codeshare and interlining?
Everybody who has ever traveled has come across those terms, but have you ever wondered what they all mean? This article of the series Travel Technology for Dummies will shed some light on what it means if somebody has a booking, is waitlisted or actually has a ticket (or an interline ticket). Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Last time I explained what a booking reference or PNR is. Today let us talk about the Passenger Service System (PSS).
The PSS usually comprises of the Central Reservation System (CRS), in other words booked inventory, an airline inventory system (free inventory) and a departure control system (DCS). It is basically the technology an airline needs: Continue reading
Political unrest, terror attacks, natural disasters, epidemics – (perceived) insecurity is on the rise among business travelers. This poses new challenges for travel risk management.
Despite all the digital innovations, the number of business trips is increasing year after year: they open doors and drive growth. It is therefore hardly a surprise that in the American Express Global Business Travel (GBT)’s European Business Travel Barometer, around 50 percent of those surveyed said that they classified business trips not as a cost, but as an investment. And costs are also taking a backseat elsewhere: security is increasingly prioritized as the most important aim of travel management. Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand what overbooking means.
Since United’s disastrous ‘removal‘ of a paying passenger with an assigned seat from an airplane in early April 2017, which went viral in social media all over the world, the term ‘overbooking’ is on everybody’s mind. But what are ‘must-ride passengers’ and what does ‘overbooking’ actually mean? Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us look at booking references or PNRs.
What is a booking reference or PNR? A booking reference, also referred to as a PNR or Record Locator, is the airline’s internal identifier for your flight booking within their computer system. It is generated by the airline’s computer system, not by the travel agent or GDS. If your flights involve different airlines, there are often separate PNRs for each carrier for use within their respective systems, but you may be given only the ticketing airline’s PNR. Continue reading
Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand what full content means.
Google Analytics suggests that the most read article on this blog is “The difference between CRS and GDS”. This tells me that there is a need to educate about travel players and their interactions, travel technology and travel business models. I would therefore like to start a new series under the name: Travel Technology for Dummies. Continue reading
Let the corporate travel war begin? The market for business-trip booking tools is moving forward – one might even say it’s one “jumbo merger” after another.
What began in 2014 with the takeover of Concur by SAP continued in 2016. KDS will become part of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and Amadeus is well on its way to completely take over I-Fao with its online booking engine “Cytric”. At the same time, Sabre is increasingly pushing towards European markets. The winds of change are getting stronger: this is also demonstrated by the fact that GBT and SAP Concur have terminated their reseller partnership. Continue reading
Last week US Airways (now American Airlines) and Sabre made their final pleas to the jury – the five-year-plus antitrust case draw to a close. My prediction became true: There is no winner.
The verdict is in. American Airlines will receive $ 5.1 million in damages – 11.5 percent of what they’d sought. The battle will go on, Sabre will file a motion or appeal, and we are back to square one. Bottom line, attorneys aside, no winner only be losers. The money awarded will hardly cover the expenses of this lawsuit. [UPDATE 3/7/17: Even though the Award is tripled according to Texas law, US Airways disclosed legal costs exceeded $ 122 million ($ 84.5M in attorney fees, $ 36.6M in attorney expenses & almost $ 0.9M in statutory costs), while Sabre estimated their legal fees between $ 35-$ 50 million]. Will airlines now be free to negotiate any deals they may want? I hardly doubt it.
Did GDSs pay $ 1.2 billion to avoid multi-source agent desktops? And how much does it cost to develop multi-content booking tools?
Graphical travel user interfaces (GUIs) such as agent desktops, online booking tools and mobile interfaces have been around for a while by now. While they are pretty successful in the online booking space with an adoption at around 90 percent, they are still lagging behind with agents who love their cryptic screen or “green screen”, how this terminal access is called by insiders referring to the ancient IBM 3270 terminals. Continue reading
Will chatbots supersede apps and websites? A view into the future.
What is a chatbot? A chatbot is a service powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence (AI), which you interact with via a chat interface. An example: If you need new shoes, instead of going to the store and talking to the salesperson about what you want or scrolling through all shoes on a website, you would simply tell the chatbot what you want: your size and your preferred style. Then you would get returned the results as if you were in the store. Chatbots are supposedly huge because for the first time in history, messaging apps have surpassed social networks with over three billion active users per month (almost ½ of the world’s population). Continue reading