merican Airlines is credited with
inventing, improving or perfecting many of the most successful
airline marketing innovations of the last quarter-century,
including the Super Saver, the frequent flyer program, yield
management and the GDS.
Out of this tradition of leadership comes EveryFare, a plan
whereby American will put its Web fares in the GDSs for those
agents willing to pay a portion of the airline's GDS booking
It may not become as successful as some of American's earlier
innovations, but it shares with them several characteristics that
are intrinsically "American:"
• If it works, it will give American an advantage over other
• It has the potential to fundamentally alter existing industry
relationships and incentives.
• It is exceedingly clever.
• The more you think about it, the more you realize that there
could be more going on here than meets the eye.
We would expect a negative reaction from many small and
medium-size agencies that would understandably balk at the notion
of helping to defray the GDS costs of an airline that pays no
commission. But we also note that two substantial travel management
companies have signed on, which suggests there are, for some,
positive aspects to this thing, too.
Understanding all the implications of EveryFare is going to take
some time, but before we pass judgment, we must say at the outset
that American deserves some credit here.
It is true that American is seeking to shift some of its costs
to agents. But as distasteful as that may be to some, it must be
noted that American's program at least recognizes the importance of
the GDSs to agents and puts the Web fares into the GDSs, where most
agents say they want them. American also is pledging to give
participating agents the option of booking Web fares directly
through AA.com, avoiding the GDS booking fee entirely.
In this space we have recently criticized airlines for having
bad ideas, or no ideas. American's latest idea is a lot of things.
It is complicated, creative, provocative and it deserves some very
• • •
America West's latest
orthy of praise from the outset
is America West, for coming up with the adult notion of making fare
waivers available to travel agents based on their performance.
Rather than saying "never," and then making ad hoc exceptions
under the table, the airline simply came up with a plan to reward
productive agencies with credits that can be redeemed for waivers,
according to a plan written down for all to see.
We like it.