Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Aug. 23, 2006

SABRE introduced TripTailor, a tool that enables agents to create vacation packages and add a markup on top of the commission that Sabre pays and guarantees to agencies. TripTailor, accessible at TripTailor.com and through the MySabre agency portal, is Sabre's latest and most ambitious foray into wholesaling. Using the TripTailor dynamic packaging engine, Sabre-connected agencies can bundle air, car, hotel, tour, event and dining components. During the reservations process, agents can view the preliminary package price, which includes the bundled price of the inventory components, taxes and fees. Agents can then add a markup, which won't be broken out on the customer's receipt and view the total price. TripTailor then calculates agents' commission and markup so agents can view their total revenue from the transaction.

US AIRWAYS became the latest major U.S. airline to join the GDS fee bandwagon, initiating a $3.50-per-segment booking fee against agencies for using what the airline has designated as a non-preferred distribution channel, effective Sept. 1. American, United, Northwest and Continental already had announced plans for the fee. As with the plans introduced by other carriers, US Airways will not charge the fee to agencies that use one of the airline's "preferred distribution sources." For US Airways, those preferred sources are Sabre's Efficient Access Solution, Galileo's Content Continuity Program, Worldspan's Super Access Product, all Amadeus products, all G2 SwitchWorks products, Usairways.com and Usairwaysvacations.com. Agencies that use the preferred distribution sources will have access to full content. US Airways is defining "full content" as fares and inventory available through the GDSs and alternative providers, as well as other fares, schedules and inventories it makes generally available to the public through its own reservations personnel, Usairways.com or any other GDS.

NORTHWEST, MEANWHILE, stated that the GDS fees it pays Amadeus rose "nearly 30%" Aug. 1 because "Amadeus refused to extend its existing full content agreement" with the carrier. Northwest's statement came in reaction to a lawsuit that Amadeus filed against Northwest and American, seeking a temporary injunction to block the airlines' pending imposition of $3.50-per-segment fees for travel agents bookings through Amadeus. "Northwest regrets that Amadeus has apparently decided to convert a commercial negotiation into a court proceeding," the airline stated in reaction to the suit. "In the event that Amadeus chooses to continue on that path, however, Northwest is confident that its position will be fully vindicated and there will be no legal impediment to implementation of Northwest's Preferred Distribution Products policy on Sept. 1." Amadeus sued Northwest and American, alleging that they are discriminating against Amadeus regarding the new $3.50 fees and that such discrimination is barred in the airlines Participating Carrier Agreements with Amadeus. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in Manhattan.

FARECAST.COM added 55 departure cities to its offering, supplementing the two departure cities -- Seattle and Boston -- in its sights when it introduced its beta product in June. Farecast uses predictive algorithms to help consumers shopping for flights decide whether to buy now or buy later, based on economic trends and other factors. From each of the 57 airports, Farecast's predictions cover a selection of routes to major cities. Farecast.com is a referral service, transferring consumers to third-party Web sites if users decide to book. Farecast.com also introduced RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds so consumers can track fare trends from their desktops.

TRALLIANCE, which operates the registry for the dot-travel domain, introduced in beta a travel search engine at www.search.travel. As a vertical search engine, Search.travel is geared to retrieve free results from authenticated travel companies instead of mingling results from travel and non-travel companies. Tralliance, a subsidiary of theglobe.com, also hopes to earn incremental ad revenue from sponsored links that run along the right side of its search results pages. Tralliance CEO Edward Cespedes said Tralliance partnered with a major search engine to get the ads and certain natural results from the Web, but he declined to identify the search engine. Search queries at Search.travel first trigger results from the Tralliance dot-travel database, followed by natural Web results from Tralliance's unnamed search-engine partner.

Technology Editor:

Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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