Agents are ‘content’ with their GDS
TBY NADINE GODWIN
HE GDS COMPANIES have created
buzz recently with the
prospect of enhancements meant to give
airlines more flexibility to merchandise
their services across
all channels: websites,
travel agencies and
their own call centers.
Sabre led the way,
in September, by rolling out details
of system modules that will, for the
first time, include a la carte pricing
for unbundled services. Amadeus
and Travelport are also pursuing
new, more versatile open systems
that can manage revenue-genera-tion tools for airlines.
In addition, Travelport in the
fourth quarter will beta test an agency desktop based on G2 Switchworks
software, meant for rollout early
next year. It, too, involves significant
investment to help suppliers sell the
way they want to sell, according to
Flo Lugli, senior vice president, commercial, Travelport GDS.
But Travelport has said it is also
an agency product that will give
agents simultaneous access to GDS
and non-GDS sources for book-
ing, while enabling a consolidated
PNR and a raft of point-of-sale features to enhance efficiency and help
agents direct business to preferred
However, even without such bells
and whistles or new agent-specific
desktops, agents are reasonably
content with the systems they have,
based on ASTA’s most recent study
of GDS usage among its members.
Eighty-three percent of agents in
the ASTA survey said they use a GDS
(the same as last year) and the great
or very satisfied with
legacy airline content; 77.1%
were equally satisfied
with hotel content, and 80.5% were
satisfied with car rental content.
Satisfaction levels dropped significantly for all other segments, to
47% for rail, 46.7% for nonlegacy
carriers, 40.2% for cruise, 32.6% for
tour and 27.1% for insurance.
A remarkably high portion found
Agents most happy
with air functionality,
less with other modes,
ASTA study shows.
GDS Usage Among ASTA Agencies
Share of Responses
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
2006 2007 2008
much of the content serviceable
enough that they neither sang its
praises nor complained. Nearly two-thirds ( 62.2%) were neutral about
insurance, and roughly half were
neutral about tour (50.6%), cruise
( 48.5%) and rail ( 45.5%). More
than a third ( 35.3%) were neutral
about content associated with nonlegacy airlines.
These results suggest the kinds of
content agents would most like to
see added or improved in the GDSs.
However, four of five (79.6%) said
or very satisfied overall
what or very dissatisfied.
Agents were, nevertheless, more
cautious about the next contract
than such numbers might suggest.
More like three of five ( 58.6%) said
they will renew with the same GDS
when their contracts expire, while a
quarter ( 26.4%) were unsure. About
one in 10 ( 11.5%) will seek competing bids. The remaining 3.4% said
they won’t keep a GDS when renewal time comes.
Switching systems remains a
relatively rare event. In the last
two years, only 4% of GDS users
changed systems. The leading reason was lower costs, followed by
better financial incentives and better functionality.
Over the longer term, ASTA
found, respondents have been with
the same primary GDS for an aver-