Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Aug. 24, 2005

THE STAR ALLIANCE followed through on an earlier pledge and sent requests for proposals (RFPs) several weeks ago to three of the new-entrant distributors in the U.S., an alliance official said during a press conference at the recent National Business Travel Association (NBTA) meet in San Diego. Christian Klick, a vice president of the 16-airline alliance, said the process is on "a quick track," with the alliance hoping to receive replies by the end of September. Members of the Star Alliance spend $2 billion in GDS fees annually, averaging about $13 per trip, Klick said. He noted that the airlines hope to pursue a unified strategy regarding the GDS New Entrants (GNEs), which are pledging airline-booking fees of around $1 per trip. Klick wouldn't identify the GNEs who received RFPs, but he said he is familiar with G2 SwitchWorks, ITA Software and Farelogix. He also said the alliance may have sent RFPs to other distributors, as well.

MEANWHILE, CARLSON WAGONLIT TRAVEL began using the G2 distribution system about a month ago to book tickets on five airlines for four clients. And, Garber Travel in Chestnut Hill, Mass., started using ITA Software's 1U distribution system to book United tickets for five clients and said it intends to move all of its 50,000 United segments from Sabre to ITA by the middle of next year.

 

FARELOGIX, in shoring up its GNE offerings, said United and Continental "are among the industry-leading carriers" who have signed distribution agreements or letters of intent with Farelogix. And Northwest is "in the final stages of discussions" to sign a distribution contract, as well, Farelogix said. Unlike ITA and G2, the Farelogix FLX Platform is positioned as a multisource distribution system in that it aggregates content from the four GDSs and also offers GDS bypass, with lower airline booking fees. 

TRALLIANCE CORP., the official registrar of the dot-travel Internet domain, confirmed Oct. 1 as its "limited launch" date, saying it expects a 90-day trial to satisfy the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers prior to the official launch at the end of the year. Travel firms cannot yet register a name in the new domain, but beginning this week, firms that are not members of authenticating associations, such as ASTA and the National Tour Association, can have their eligibility reviewed by submitting the required information, including a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS Number, through www.tralliance.info.

THE INSTITUTE OF BUSINESS TRAVEL MANAGEMENT, the NBTA's research and educational foundation, unveiled a new tool that it said will enable travel managers "to measure the effectiveness and return on investment of their companies' travel program." The Managed Travel Index (MTI) and Benchmarking Tool consists of one feature that provides a broad measurement of the effectiveness of a company's travel program, and another that analyzes air and hotel cost data. The MTI collects user data and can be tweaked to see how the corporation's travel program measures up against programs in similar industries, with comparable travel volumes and/or in the same geographic area. The Benchmarking Tool measures air spending against fare and performance information for airlines in specified city pairs, and against hotel occupancy and room rates in certain cities or regions. More information is available at www.ibtm.org/benchmarking.

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