As reported by Tnooz, the Open Axis Group, a group of industry experts trying to establish an innovative new distribution standard, will hold a meeting to discuss the inadequacies of current travel agency desktops. Following the name for their distribution standard, Distribution 2.0, the working group is called Desktop 2.0.
In addition to the Open Axis Airline Members and third party developer allied members, several representatives from travel agencies, OTAs, TMCs will be invited. However, it seems detailed information about the participants will not be disclosed, since some participants fear retaliation by the GDSs. According to the Open Axis Group some if its members worry that – especially with regards to ancillary services – current agency desktop are not able to display and new airline products to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, the Open Axis Group aims to develop standards and support developers to solve these problems.
“Finding common ground is what this new Desktop 2.0 Working Group is all about – balancing the need to go from today’s selling systems with their commoditized airline display to a display based on traveler authentication and personalization, all the while maintaining agency productivity and workflow consistency,” says Jim Young, Executive Director of the Open Axis Group.
This announcement is quite remarkable, since with Sabre Red Workspace and Travelport Agencia two GDSs lately launched agency desktop solutions that are supposed to offer the abilities demanded by agents and airlines. That’s why they strongly refuse the Open Axis’ opinion on agency desktops: “The implication that current desktops don’t meet the needs of agents and airlines means they clearly haven’t seen the significant innovations Sabre has made over the years, including being first in the industry to provide airlines the ability to market and sell their ancillary fares through the global distribution system and travel agents”, says Sabre spokeswoman Nancy St. Pierre.
A complete service covering all needs
So while it is not entirely clear to what extent both the GDSs and the airlines are just commercially motivated, it is obvious that we need more innovation to improve our customers’ buying experience and in the end to improve our competitiveness. What has to be considered though is that travel agents do not only sell flights, but also hotel stays, rental cars, rail etc. Therefore we should not only focus on ancillary revenues and airline direct connects, but ensure that agents can provide their customers with a complete service covering all their needs.
“For years, there has been a lack of innovation in the travel industry. But to remain competitive against possible new entrants such as Google it is important to provide unique value to our customers. Technology should enhance innovation, not restrict it. Thus, travel agents need a desktop solution that enables them to offer their customers personalized offers and to meet their entire requests. With our VTO 2G PASS offers such an agent booking engine. The VTO 2G enables access to any modules in an existing arsenal which includes standard functions such as booking flights, hotels and rental cars but also specials such as customer relations management functions, a profile database, direct connections to service providers and travel management functions.”
When inventory providers decided to introduce their own graphical frontends to finally arrive in the 21st century it also came with restrictions for 3rd parties and consequently PASS among others today is not authorized to provide innovative out-of-the box graphical multi-GDS desktops to the industry, although the technology is ready to be used. It would be interesting to see all the graphical multi-GDS agent desktops next to each other to let the market decide which one is the best and most efficient one for the industry, but fair competition to enable innovative products seems to be a foreign language in this industry.
Image by Hyena Reality