t's refreshing to see some CRS
operators coming up with innovations for travel agents that promise
new efficiencies without being compulsory or expensive.
We're thinking specifically of a new gimmick from Amadeus that
makes the products of a half-dozen consolidators available for
booking on the Web, even for agents who don't use the Amadeus
Even better for agents is that the consolidators pay to have
their wares displayed; agents pay nothing to log on and shop for
net-rate deals for their clients.
We're also thinking of a new service offered by Sabre for
Sabre-connected agencies with credit card merchant accounts. Sabre
Merchant Pay allows such agents to get instant authorization and
processing for client credit card payments for service fees,
directly through the CRS. And agents can put the supplier and
agency charges on the same invoice.
In recent years, we've become accustomed to CRS enhancements
like these from all four of the major vendors. We're talking about
enhancements that are designed to make agencies more productive and
efficient businesses, and that bring no direct benefit to air
Even if the technology had been available, you wouldn't have
expected these kinds of bells and whistles 15 years ago, when the
operation of a CRS was not a stand-alone business.
In those bad old
days, the CRSs existed to maximize the revenue of their airline
Some CRSs still have some airline owners, but the days of the
CRS as a blunt instrument of airline market power seem to be over
The perfect and perfectly friendly CRS is still evolving, but
the competition between airlines is no longer the driving force
behind that evolution.
Because the Internet is here to stay, the CRSs have to prove
their worth to the airlines and to agents, every day.
Now that's an enhancement.