The bully decided to
intimidate the kids in the playground just as bullies have been
doing as long as one can remember. Like all bullies, this one
decided to pick on a group that could not defend itself. As we all
know, its a trait of bullies to avoid anyone they think will fight
As usual, in the
travel industry, the bully was a major airline. The neighborhood,
of course, was the same one where all the bully airlines have found
easy pickings. So as his peers have done for decades, this
particular bully headed for the travel agency
It was a day in
late August when the bully said, Every travel agency has to pay me
an agency segment fee of $3.75 for one-way itineraries you book in
your GDS and $7.50 for roundtrips. This is not negotiable. You have
no say in this matter. Just shut up and pay. Im going to bill all
of you monthly, and you send the money to my buddy, ARC. Ill even
give you a break. I wont charge you until Sept. 1.
But this time the
agency community decided to draw a line in the sand. Immediately,
the mega-agency groups swung into action. Many sent e-mails to
their members. Others arranged conference calls with groups of
agencies to plot strategies for retaliation. There was no way they
were going to back down.
And what the bully did not
know was the agencies had a few new friends, including the GDSs.
Once, the GDSs and the airlines belonged to the same gang, but the
bullies decided the GDSs were no longer needed and told them to go
their own way. Now, agencies and the GDSs joined forces to fight
off the bully.
The bully took the
blows and grinned. It was just a matter of time until his trump
card would be played and then the agencies and business travelers
would have no choice but to pay his demands: Soon, he thought, the
other bullies would match his booking fee to reduce their
But that was not to
be. Another airline announced it was not going to charge GDSs
agency booking fees, and the bully had had enough. Confused,
battered, bloodied, humiliated and feeling betrayed by his
erstwhile accomplices, the bully said, OK, you dont have to pay me.
Ill let you go this time. And then he ran home to tend to his
Now, the airline
bullies will have to ward off attacks by their unions, passengers,
retirees, low-cost airlines and their creditors. They also know the
government is tired of bailing them out. Maybe they will think
twice before they pick on the travel agency community
is an industry consultant, trainer and speaker. He can be contacted
at (919) 557-3844 or by e-mail at [email protected].