GDS users take heed: Farelogix, PASS bring new offering to table

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MIAMI -- Suppliers, agencies and corporations trying to reduce their GDS dependence have a new option, a combined offering from Farelogix and PASS Consulting.

The two companies, with offices here, are offering suppliers a low-cost distribution system that enables agencies and corporations to book and manage inventory from multiple sources in a single application with a super PNR and native green-screen commands.

The new offering, which is just coming to market and has no users, combines a Farelogix product called FLX Distribution Manager with a front-end and graphical user interface from PASS called Virtual Travel Organizer (VTO).

Together they would enable agency and corporate users to access and book the four GDSs and to supplement their use with access to Web content, private fares and direct connections to suppliers.

The Farelogix and PASS solution doesnt position itself as an alternative GDS but as a new way for agencies to access, manage and book inventory from multiple sources and customize it to coincide with their supplier relationships.

Farelogix CEO Jim Davidson, formerly head of Amadeus North America, calls it an independent travel distribution model that brings total content from various sources integrated in an independent point of sale.

Until now, Farelogixs primary business has been as a consolidator and aggregator, providing a call center and booking application that integrates Sabre inventory and Web content from Air Canada, CanJet and WestJet. Clients include American Express Canada, Navigant International Canada and Carlson Wagonlit.

PASS, a consulting company with 650 employees worldwide, has direct connects with the four GDSs, Pegasus Solutions and Travel Weekly parent Northstar Travel Media (for hotel content). PASS clients for multiple-GDS access include Amadeus e-Travel, Worldspans Trip Manager, Cendants Travelport, Omega World Travel, MSC Cruises, Brendan Worldwide Tours, Thomas Cook, Royal Caribbean and Lufthansa. MTS Travel is using VTO.

United injected Farelogix into the alternate GDS discussion in January. Thats when the carrier conducted a meeting at headquarters with its top agency and corporate clients; trotted out ITA, G2 and Farelogix to give presentations; and told agencies it was considering giving $5 incentives if they opt to book through the three GDS new entrants.

Davidson explained that the major airlines say they have a $6 pot to spend on booking fees and incentives, and they indeed are offering agencies inducements to book through Farelogix, which says its booking fees are $1 to $1.50 per trip.

That contrasts with the average $12 booking fee per trip [including incentives passed along to agencies] that United said it pays to the GDSs. G2s off-the-shelf booking fee is $3 per trip, and it is cheaper for one-way tickets and for airlines that took equity stakes in the company.

Farelogix is relatively late among the new entrants, having just got its technology house in order with the agreement to use the PASS graphical user interface.

On the supplier side, Farelogix has a prototype direct connect functioning with Continental and is working on direct-connect contracts with United and Air Canada, Davidson said, adding that discussions are ongoing with AirTran, Northwest, Delta, Singapore and Emirates.

With 25 employees, Farelogix has just hired a sales team to sell the Farelogix/PASS product. In March, Farelogix received $6 million in Series C funding from Sandler Capital Management.

An underlying assumption of the Farelogix/PASS partnership is that the GDSs are not going away, although agency use of the legacy GDSs will decline as they tap new inventory sources. In that environment, travel sellers will need tools to manage their contracts and bookings from a number of sources.

Whats happening now in the market is [the industry] is making booking a complicated as it can, said Michael Strauss, CEO of PASS Consulting. You really have to be an expert. Were making sure that, in the end, it should be simpler and easier because [agents] have so many other challenges to fulfill.

The two companies target customer is a corporate agency that doesnt already have a front end, such as American Express Travelbahn and Carlson Wagonlit Travels Symphonie, to access disparate inventory sources.

For such an agency, the FLX platform can be set up to make the first 10,000 bookings through one or more GDSs to meet productivity requirements and access inventory from other sources, as well.

The inventory source also can be selected according to city pair or preferred agreement.

For suppliers, Davidson said the FLX/PASS solution offers a way to differentiate themselves at the point of sale with customized content such as pricing middle seats at a discount or ... an upgrade for $50.

All of that can be sitting in a display that looks very unique, he said.

To contact reporter Dennis Schaal, send e-mail to [email protected].

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