A news release late last month announced a new relationship between Farelogix and ITA Software. First a bit of disclosure, Farelogix has been a Travel Tech Consulting Inc. (TTCI) client and I have known the founder of ITA Software since 1997 when I participated in a presentation at Sun Microsystems (another TTCI client) where Jeremy Wertheimer first presented the ITA faring solution as part of a visit by a major TMC. Many in the corporate travel world may falsely believe that the concept of a GNE (GDS New Entrant a term coined by a former UA executive back in 2005) is old news and is no longer relevant based on the 5 year agreements signed last year between the major airlines and GDS. How are the GNEs continuing to survive and why have the three original GNEs embraced each other? It is important to note that G2Swithworks the other major GNE who received lots of press in 2005 already has a relationship with ITA Software as well as sharing a funding relationship with Texas Pacific Group who now also owns Sabre). In 2006, ITA shifted their focus away from GDS bypass to building a next generation CRS (Central Reservation System) for their “beachhead client” Air Canada. Farelogix has successfully continued to sign direct connection agreements with major airlines and was selected to provide the plumbing for BCD Travel’s Renaissance Project. There are four major trends that continue to provide opportunity for these so-called GNEs
So back to the issue at hand, why a partnership with ITA and Farelogix? The answer is simple, ITA has proven over the past 8-9 years to have the best 3rd party shopping and faring application. Farelogix has taken a more agnostic approach to faring offering SITA faring application, accessing the GDS faring models or now with this agreement offing ITA Software as an alternative.
Please don’t misinterpret my comments here as I am NOT voicing the old hackney message that “The GDS are dinosaurs and are history” These companies still are at the heart of travel distribution both online and off. The ongoing viability of GNEs due to the factors above will continue to push the market to provide a more flexible distribution solution that ultimately allows suppliers to better segment their clients and target their best customers with special offers (a basic tenant of CRM). As the ultimate purchases of business travel, the corporate buying community needs to pay attention to this trends to insure that total supply is offered and that the corporation in conjunction with their TMC controls the distribution choices allowing additional leverage in supplier negotiations.