This blogpost will be posted in English. That might be something new for my regular readers. It appears that many of my Twitter followers look into my weblog but don’t understand what I’m shouting here, as their knowledge of the Dutch language somewhat corresponds with my knowledge of the Chinese language…. so therefore I’ll try to write some appropriate stories in English from now on……starting with this blogpost, which will probably find an international audience.
For the people amongst us, that have no clou what I’m talking about in the title of this story, ancillary products are more or less products that come with a flight ticket, but are not integrated in that airticket. Nowadays, we see more and more airlines differentiate their airline products in transportation on the one side, and everything else (which used to be included in that same transportation ticket in many cases) on the other. In many cases, they talk about personalisation of the airfare product. We even find some (travel-) agents in the 3rd party sales column who say the same thing…. Personalisation of airfare sales is a good thing, so why would we be afraid of the future? And to be honest, that does surprise me. How can agents not be afraid of a shake up of their sales column?? (Because that is what’s going on here…!!)
So, let me draw the big picture here: Personalisation in airfare distribution leads to loss of business for the third party sales column in aviation sales. Airlines will draw more business to their own sales channels, as they are the product owners and their websites are fully capable of selling the total travel experience of their valued customers. The third party sales column is in general not (yet??) capable of doing so. Why not ? The answer to this question is a little complicated. Let’s first start with the question: Who is in that third party sales channel anyway? The answer shows 4 members of that sales collumn, in random order: online travel agents, consolidators, online booking tools and TMC’s. Now there is a lot to say about them, but they have more or less one thing in common: they are dependent of a GDS, a so called Global Distribution System. And that’s where the problem starts: The GDSses are not yet ready and capable of creating the opportunities that are necessary to do the same thing as airlines currently do more and more: creating opportunities by personalisation of their aviation product. Therefore an agent will face more and more difficulties in advising their customers. Why so ? Because a GDS is a price based distribution model. And the problem is that by creating ancillary products, the shopping for air fare products is virtually impossible. Agents cannot advise their customers on the costs of the total travel experience, or maybe better said: the only way that agents are still capable of doing this in the future, will create such a workflow, that it looks virtually impossible for them to provide a good travel comparison overview for their customers. So be aware on what’s happening !
Will there be a solution? Eventually yes, but who will take up the gauntlet here ?
We need a good comparison tool, that we can use on specified ancillary sales. The GDS for now has not created a clear and easy to use API for this. So why don’t they do this ? Is it too complex ? Does it need an investment that is too high ? Are agents capable of doing it themselves ? No, regrettably. Let them do what they do best: provide solutions in travel. And let the GDS do what they do best: create a technical solution for this.
It will be a win-win for the GDS, for the agent but also for the airlines in the end.
For the people that might feel a huge challenge coming up here, I think they’re right, absolutely right. But we are capable of flying to the moon and back, so we definately will have the possibility to create some solutions here. Just get started and stop fighting the inevitable. In the end, it will be well worth the efforts !