20 February 2010

The Long Road Back For US Travel Agencies

Recently ARC (the old Airlines Reporting Corporation) has begin to make some of its vast data more readily available for the marketplace.

I believe that ARC represents a good proxy for the US market and the GDSs in the USA in particular. Well at least for now.

Recently they have made available the breakout of the different types of Travel Agency based transactions. Breaking them into 3 categories - Mega (meaning TMCs) Online and the ubiquitous "Other" category - it is interesting to see how the downturn last year affected the Mega and the OTA categories differently. As a proxy for the future we can see that the worst is definitely now behind us in TRANSACTIONS. However revenue/yield continues to lag and we are not seeing it come back. I believe it will be some time for us to see some significant improvements in yield.

What we see is that the market definitely bottomed out in February 2009. So now we are one year on from there. Yes the OTAs have made inroads. The abolition of fees has made the OTA more attractive to users. However there is still the issue of the legacy GDS based OTAs inability to handle ancillary revenue services such as paying for premium seats and baggage that is so important for the airlines.

If Travel Intermediaries want to make the change and look for new revenue forms - they should really start looking to cooperate with the airlines and try and drive the profitable solutions of ancillary revenue sales.


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