Can the travel technology business learn
anything from the airlines? (Pause for laughter.) It occurs to us
that the rise and reputed decline of airline hub-and-spoke systems
may have a corollary in the rise and widely predicted decline of
What is a GDS,
after all, but an information hub?
In the airline
world, hub-and-spoke systems have gone from being a good idea to
being the only idea, and are now back to being merely an idea thats
not for everyone, but that works well when its done
consensus seems to be that while consumers value point-to-point
service, particularly by low-cost carriers, there is also great
value in networks that can flow traffic through hubs to and from
Getting from Yakima, Wash.,
to Macon, Ga., for example, will take a day out of your life and
then some, but without a network, youre on your own. There wont be
a nonstop flight for $59.
Is this the future
of GDS-based distribution? Handling reservations traffic for
smaller entities that dont have the volume to justify direct links?
The GDSs certainly dont think so, but a mere decade ago, the big
hub airlines didnt think that the Southwests, AirTrans and JetBlues
of the world would be taking traffic and driving down rates in some
of their fattest markets.
pressures have forced the hub airlines to rethink the role of the
hub and the nature of networks. They have retooled and rescheduled.
They have formed alliances and have eliminated redundant hubs.
Assuming the airline industry ever gets back on its feet, we
suspect the hub carriers left standing are going to have pretty
efficient networks. We suspect youll still be able to get from
places like Yakima to places like Macon.
What remains to be
seen is how suppliers and intermediaries in out-of-the-way places
will connect with each other when the dust clears in the technology
The people who complain that ASTA never
does anything should take note of our news report today about the
recent meeting of the Young Professionals Society, an organization
created by ASTA to engage the industrys younger
Membership is open
to agency and supplier personnel, and ASTA membership is not a
Professionals Society hasnt solved any of the travel industrys
problems, yet, but we think its a safe bet that among its 400
members are some people who will be contributing to significant
solutions in the years ahead.
Professionals Society was and is a good idea. Most of us older folk
dont hear much about it very often, but it deserves the continued
support of ASTA and the supplier community as well.
details on this article, see ASTAs Young Professionals Society looks to