the dinosaurs returned?
JetBlue over the
course of its short life has gone from being in no GDSs to being in
all four. Southwest, after keeping its toe in the Sabre pool for
several years, decided this year to get into the Galileo system and
to venture into Worldspan's waters next year.
Now from Europe comes
word that EasyJet is broadening its distribution strategy by
participating in Europe's Big Two, Amadeus and Galileo.
From these events you
might conclude that the GDS channel is making a comeback among the
apostate low-fare carriers, at least for managed business
You'd be half
This movement of
low-fare carriers toward the GDSs reflects their improved appeal
following the recent fee adjustments and restructurings. It also
reflects, in the case of EasyJet, an improved technology for
managing direct connections between low-fare carrier res systems
and the GDS.
But we suspect that
innovation on the GDS side is only part of the reason for these
events. The other reason may be that the Web is old hat.
As the cyber
consultants at PhoCusWright have phrased it, booking travel online
is "becoming the norm."
Is there a more
boring word than "norm?"
Not only is it a case
of "The thrill is gone," to quote B.B. King, but shopping online is
increasingly becoming a chore. In a recent report from Forrester
Research, Henry Harteveldt warned online
travel sellers that their Internet operations may not be as sleek
as they think, as travelers "slog" through travel sites, "hashing
through your mumbo jumbo."
For all its flaws and
its allegedly high costs, the GDS channel has always had the
ability to deliver valuable business to airlines, even when the
airlines were preoccupied with low-hanging fruit.
For observers taking
the long view, it's both interesting and ironic to see the low-cost
airlines now turning to the GDS channel as a growth strategy,
looking for new customers.
hundred bucks used to be a big deal. Now it's a barrier to be
broken, and everybody is pondering the implications of $100
Recent news events
offer three ways of looking at a hundred bucks:
" Carnival Corp. has one of the most
enviable profit margins in all of travel, but when it adds a fuel
surcharge to cruises on 68 ships across six brands and makes it
retroactive to business already on the books, you have to figure
that oil prices are having an impact.
As for the airlines,
all we can say is: Ouch!
" Passports haven't broken the
barrier yet. We have no idea how much it should cost to produce a
passport, but we always thought the U.S. fee of $97 was a little
Our suspicions seemed
to be confirmed when a GAO report suggested that the State
Department may have been overcharging us. The U.S. fee, however, is
in line with the fee charged in Canada and is a bargain compared
with the U.K., where a new passport costs 72 pounds, or $151.
"Average Daily Rate" is an important hotel industry benchmark. It
came to about $97 last year and beat crude oil to the $100 mark
earlier in 2007. It was hovering around $105 when November began
and, like everything else, is probably heading north. Ouch