21 October 2009

Mobile Space - Its Not About the Booking

Brett Henry (Abacus and actually quite a good guy!) - made a major statement at WIT Ideas Lab - Mobile is not about the Pre-booking issues - its all about the service element - the Post Booking experience. PC is better for the pre and in buying experience.

So I will challenge that just a little we can make some simple bookings (for non-critical elements of the trip such as a taxi) via mobile. But trying to force stuff down that thin client pipe requires a change of thinking.

And then there is the real problem. Ear Eye.

Just think about it.... Watch how many times you move the handset from your ear to your vision area. Pain in the rear agree?


20 October 2009

1A+1G/1C/1P vs 1A+1S(1W) Or....

So I have been trying to decide if this really is a credible story from the first time I heard it 3 weeks ago. I prefer not to address rumours although I LOVE to speculate as you may have gathered.

So let me address this is 2 parts.

Firstly is the idea of a merger of GDSs a good idea?

I have opined often that I believe the GDS current model is flawed and in need of either a revolution or something more dramatic. I think we are long past the stage of evolution of the GDS model - but there again I tend to be more radical in this regard. So is a merger the right answer to a broken model? I liken this solution to the idea of merging bankrupt airlines.

Secondly is it viable if a merger should take place - with either of the 3 possible combinations. So can we eliminate any of them?

Actually no all bets are ON. that includes Amadeus and Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport and Travelport and Sabre. Frankly none of these is appealing. Travelport is from reading the Beat the weakest of the players. So which option looks best?

Actually I am going to say there is another option. Carve up Travelport.

This option is the more obvious if you consider the market footprint alone

A carve up.

Slice up Travelport. Put the USA assets over to Amadeus and take the International Assets over to Sabre.

Game over - best value.

Any questions?

Social Media vs Search - Bedfellows Or Mortal Enemies

At one of the sessions today at WIT09 (for tweets follow #webintravel) there was a debate between Search vs Social Media. The audience at the end concluded (bless them) that they belong together in a show of hands under Siew Hoon's moderation.

It would seem that this isn't just a set of let's get along - it has some validity. Last week eMarketer pushed out an article on the Synergy of Search and Social Media

Frankly I am of the opinion that there is a large amount of metrics that are about as valid as financial derivatives are good.

So bear that in mind if you want to believe you can. But retain a healthy sense of skepticism.


Consumers - We Think Travel Websites Are Confusing

With travel trying to cram more and more information into their websites - we are begining to see a customer backlash. I got an email the other day from Leonardo/VFM. In it they quoted an interesting statistic - only 34% of US online travelers surveyed believe that travel Web sites clearly present their choices and trade-offs.
North American Technographics® Travel Online Survey Q1 2009 (US), Forrester Research, Inc., February 2009.

That tells me something that I have long suspected that the Consumer is being increasingly browned off by the junk in front of him.

At today's Web in Travel session of which I was a panelist - my fellow stage occupants - Ram Badrinathan, General Manager-Asia Pacific, PhoCusWright Inc and Mark Inkster, Managing Director, Microsoft Online Services Group, Southeast Asia also agreed that things are not good.

Last week's missive from Gerry McGovern focused on an example from the BBC websites. The purity of the service keeps a lot of the clutter away from the process of diving into detail. Given the amount of screens of information the user has to go through to get to the pure information nugget (he or she) wants, this makes it easier.

I sense there is a backlash from the consumer who is tired of being bombarded with "just in case" information when he wants to get to only information that is contextual to his request. Thus those who push everything including the kitchen sink and let any (as opposed to only relevant) stakeholders have sway in the scarce real estate on the web (particularly above the fold), should take heed.

Today's web user will move away from a site that is too cluttered and if you judge by some of the panelists today on the OTA panel - UI/UE trumps content.

Now that is food for thought


19 October 2009

JAL Lurches Towards Crisis

The size of the crisis at JAL is slowly coming to leak out. It would appear that both the initial size and the rate of outflow are definitely reaching crisis level.

So what is anyone doing about it?

Well basically the idea of a crisis at the former national airline is unthinkable - except for a small detail - it's very real and very now in nature. So the government is having to step up its efforts.

The banks are also tapped out with other opportunities and obligations. The old joke about how to make a million seems to ring in someone's ears. (BTW its start with a billion and invest in/start and airline). Thus they are not terribly keen to throw good money after what is increasingly seen like a bad investment.

All the while back at JAL's HQ, Rome is burning and there is a great need to fix a large number of things. So the clock is ticking down the seconds and its really dark outside. There is an urgent need for action now to stem the bleeding.

Enough may be enough but for Japan this will be hard. There will have to be a real crisis and some radical surgery. The time for nuanced change is over. If JAL is to survive then someone needs to grab the wheel.

Enough of the metaphors. Can some one do something or will there be someone who has to turn out the lights on a storied brand.


Westjet Cuts Over to Sabre PSS

So the aggressive guys at Westjet went from announcement to implementation in about 9 months.


So that must be a record for an airline of that size to make such a migration in such a period of time.

Kudos to the Sabre team for the work done.

There are some clear lessons here that can be applied to many airlines who are currently reviewing their PSS infrastructure.

The Professor therefore thinks airlines should consider their position as follows:

1. Changing your PSS is not as traumatic as has been believed. If you are focused and set a clear goal and objectives - you can do it in a reasonable time. Remember one of the Professor's cardinal rules - no project should take longer than one year.

2. The complexity of a PSS system is no longer a black art. Focus works.

3. Navitaire is pretty vulnerable and has done little to support the increased complexity of the airline model. Now they are paying the price with major defections of jetBlue and Westjet. There are other customers who are not happy. Chaps - this should be a wake up call.

4. Sabre is VERY hungry and given the loss of their anchor customer American to the new Jetstream product of HP/EDS - you can expect great deals and good service from Dallas - the like of which has not been seen in decades.

5. Amadeus is NOT the only game in town. There are good choices possible, available and desirable. From the big guys (Sabre et al) to the mid/small size guys - Results, Radixx etc.

6. the importance of the Distribution manangement system means you must take the time and have a clear layer between the PSS and the GDSs. Don't believe the BS from the bigger players that their systems answer everything.

7. Examine your costs and check very carefully on the offers from the vendors. Focus on the bottom line not just the headline price. AND make sure that your invoicing works in a comprehensible manner. PSS and GDS vendors have long since obfuscated the true cost of the service.

8. Finally remember that there is the out of pocket cost but also the internal service costs surrounding things. Watch this one.


The Professor Will Be At WIT 2009

The Professor will be attending, speaking and just hanging around - soaking up the ambiance of WIT's 5th Anniversary conference in Singapore. I will try and Tweet also.

Arriving not quite the way I planned (thank you Qantas for canceling QF31 tonight), I have settled into my hotel and am raring to go.

If you are attending - stop by and see me. I will be the older guy with the confused look on his face!



Is Google Evil?


I have mused on this subject before.

In Travel, Google is probably now the company that benefits the most from the move to the web centric world. Make that positively in terms of cash flow.

Recently a number of people have started to question the validity if not the sincerity of Google's "Don't be evil motto".

Google has so far avoided the wrath of the media through skillful PR and undoubtedly hiding behind the concept evil empire of Microsoft.

Now someone has actually compiled a list of the 11 Ways Google is Evil.

And as if that is not enough on last AT&T let rip at Google in a formal letter to the US FCC (the telecoms regulator) claiming that Google Voice is blocking calls to Convents and Health Centers.

Whether Google is being callous deliberately or is having to "spin" its vision of "evil" can be debated. One thing is for sure - be careful with the now 20,000 ton Gorilla. He can crush you. Or at least block your calls.

You have been warned