04 May 2007

Global Free Calling Day - Yes CALL YOUR MOTHER

Those nice people at Skype are giving you the opportunity of a life time. A FREE DAY of global calling. Call anyone you like anywhere in the world as long as you initiate the call from a Skype VOIP address. Actually it does carry a few restrictions (like only from a US IP address) - here is the full T&Cs. http://www.skype.com/campaigns/giftofgab/terms.html?cm_mmc=Acceleration-_-Email-_-NA_GoG_launch_EN_US_070503-_-terms

Go ahead. Get back some of that money you have paid to eBay


Oh yes... just so you know if you are an American - NOT ALL COUNTRIES have mothers day on May 13th!


Oops - Blackstone hits snag in pursuit of Worldspan

The EU has decided that it has "serious concerns" which will place the Blackstone/Travelport acquisition of Worldspan under the microscope. Frankly this should be a non-event. The total market for reservations services is not that great. So the scope of the review seems somewhat out of whack with the general industry view.

However - it may be that this is an indication from the EU of how they view GDS deregulation although that would be a stretch since a different group inside the EU is looking at the issue - Transportation (Jacques Barrot) vs the DG on Competition (yes Neelie Kroes's group) who are looking at this merger.

The story so far is that - On 23 March 2007, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration pursuant to Article 4 and following a referral pursuant to Article 4(5) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 (1) by which the undertaking Travelport Inc. (‘Travelport’ USA) a subsidiary of The Blackstone Group (‘Blackstone’ USA) acquires within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the Council Regulation control of the whole of Worldspan Technologies Inc. (‘Worldspan’ USA) by way of purchase of shares.
On March 30th it issued a 10 day notice for comment. That has now been done and yes they feel there will be concentratio which opens the docket for a deep investigation. This can take up to a year.

So what's going to happen? The options for WSP and Galileo are not pretty. So they will probably have to go through the erosion of marketshare and the collapse of WSP's US and EU business or seek an expedited review. With Rakesh and crew mentally checking out - this will be hard on the rank and file.

The chaps in Axis House and at the Galleria are probably longing for the Halcyon days of Roy Burnham and Neil Beck.

Stay tuned. This one is going to run for a while.



PS disclosure - I was Head of International Technology for Worldspan from 1990-1996 based in London.

Electronic Ticketing - will the airlines meet the 12/12/07?

Sabre is claiming 90% plus, Abacus is at 60%.......... So will we make Giovanni's deadline? Actually the answer is no but it wont matter.

The players will decide that those who need to be in the fold will be there - those who dont will be left out. It doesnt matter whether you make it or not.

I recall in 1984 United Airlines complained that they were processing 88 different internal ticket types. we have been working with a carrier who is 77% electronic yet still processes 24 different internal ticket types.

But there is still a hidden burden. The difference between Eticketing and truly ticketless is something that is holding airlines back. GET WITH THE PROGRAM. Its about business simplicity. Simplicity saves money.

So lets do the right thing.

Bite the bullet and make it TICKETLESS now. You still have time. And just pick a date and then do the most you can to eliminate everything else. If you dont then you wont make the savings you need.



03 May 2007

Infogluttony = Time Famine and Email Bankruptcy

I read with interest the declining readership of Local Newspapers in the USA - its a worldwide trend. Print media is in decline. Conventional Broadcast media is also in steep decline as fragmentation takes hold. While we all multi-task there comes a point when we cannot do everything during a 24 hour day, more distractions arrive - New Blogs, Wikis and yes Youtube.

So what are we to do?

While I have long lobbied for a 32 hour day no one seems to be interested in that idea - Swatch had a good one – break the day into a different unit called Beats but that did as well as Esperanto. I have even tried sleeping less hours. My sleep bank has been in a state of overdraft for many years now.

The problem is there is TOO much information and too much that we need to process. I call this infogluttony and its leading to the two newest trends. Time Famine and Email bankruptcy.

The former is when you simply run out of time. Whether you blame it on too much info, or too much process (driven by PC -Politically Correct- requirements or even regulatory needs such as SOX rules), we are all screwed. Thinking freely and expressing yourself freely is no longer allowed. You have to be careful not to speak ill and anyone seen wearing a "Nuke the gay whales for Jesus" T shirt is likely to be lynched. That all takes time and extra thought.

The latter is when you just start over. A good friend of mine who works at Customer Service at a certain large LCC did this several years ago. She simply changed her email account and closed it down. Several members of the T2 family tired of spam have done the same. Its rather a scary thing. I registered timothyo at many different email accounts - the spammers don’t even need to steal my accounts - they just guess - like Frankb or Billg.

So if ANYONE out there has an answer for this - PLEASE come and get me. I am seriously considering running away from all this. Thank god my Blackberry works just about anywhere now



Sabre emulates Worldspan - sets up GSA in Nigeria

Eyeing one of the largest markets in Africa (also one of the riskiest) Sabre has partnered with local Nigerian Travel Agency group Interguide Air Limited, that will see it become available to the nearly 800 Travel Agencies in the country.

Nigeria is a well known center for fraud and questionable ticketing practices. Cash is the usual form of financial instrument but still altered tickets and various techniques have emenated from there. The age of the internet has not dimmed these efforts. How many of us have received offers to bank $8.7 million from so and so's widow?

However with Virgin Nigeria now more than a year old and well established. New Carrier Arik Air bursting onto the scene with a major order from Boeing last week - you have to think the risk is now lessened. Arguably Nigeria is the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa after Kenya and of course South Africa.

Interestingly here, Sabre has taken a leaf out of Worldspan's book and established a GSA in the market rather than risking its own corporate entity. I can just imagine the chaps in the Texas bunker getting this request from London!!!

Best of luck - count your fingers when you do this!



02 May 2007

Pegs and Wizcom - Last Gasp II

Yes folks the old models are dropping like flies. In my humble opinion, here is another one that will soon be biting the dust...

Pegasus - whose CEO was once called a very derogatory name in public by one of his big customers - has JUST managed to scrape through and get enough cash in the till with a recent offering. Not wishing to even hide their intent on cashing out - the current investors made it very clear they wanted the cash for themselves - oh yes and to buy out Wizcom from Blackstone. This they have managed to do.

But life isn’t so rosy. Pegasus revenues have been falling for some time. Its customers and suppliers are defecting and its business is not as relevant as it once was.

I feel very strongly that despite the underlying trend of disintermediation the team at Pegasus made a mistake many years ago when they didnt develop a solution for Wide Area Availability (aka Availability Search). Hoping to capitalize on what was then a monopoly - they refused to address the question. Well now they will pay the piper.

Their relevance is no longer as strong as fragmentation and bypass are the order of the day. Pegs can no longer rely on the GDSs nor their supply side partners.

I would like to put to rest one awful truth out there about the GDS being a higher yield market for Hotels. While this is technically true it comes at a price:

1. The product/content served up is pretty poor.
2. The technology sucks.
3. Travel Agents are in the main lazy and don’t look hard if the product is not available easily via the GDS.

Consequently the premium paid by users for hotels booked via the GDS Travel Agency (TMC type) bookings versus those booked using Pegasus linked to say and OTA such as Expedia has been of the order 20%+ (source TravelClick). But this is an unnatural act. In today's tight market for product (with occupancy levels at historic highs) this is unsustainable. The hoteliers got VERY smart in recent years and manage now to have the upper hand. Pegasus is largely irrelevant and their total share of the market is falling.

As bypass of different types occurs and fragmentation is the order of the day it is not just Pegs Switch business that suffers but the other pieces also. The rep business has seen significant erosion due to new players at cheaper rates and better services/technologies emerge.

Even the HCC business is coming under fire - without the ubiquity of the Switch carrying all Travel intermediary business - the value of the switch based HCC counting falls away. Perot is the beneficiary of this.

So good luck to Mike and John as the struggle to hold on to the business. There are already more holes in the dyke than you have fingers...



01 May 2007

Bravo Worldspan - finally someone attacks the core issue of Passive Segments

Despite being the lame duck of GDS, Worldspan seems to be going out with a bang not a whimper.

Worldspan is introducing a new service called Consolidator Control. The first real attempt at solving the root cause of "honest" passive segments.

Lets wish them well with it



LCC with a real difference - the All Veggie airline

New airline with the catchy name of MDLR Airlines http://www.mdlrairlines.in/ has a new and definitely different twist offering Vegetarian "Exquisite Cuisnine" to its patrons on a definitely not LCC Avro RJ70.

With the Indian market very crowded - lets hope these guys do well. Maybe this is the start of an all new trend - Niche LCCs. We can just see Mr O'Leary starting his own PottyMouth Air.