17 January 2011

2000th Blog Post - The End Of An Era

For my 2000th Blog post – I thought I would pick on a news story that crossed my desk the other day. As regular readers know the Professor has been involved in distribution for many years.

I am of the opinion that the legacy GDS business needs to change and provide better services, better products at a lower price than they do today. What I see them doing as a cabal is to continue to avoid investment in core open technologies preferring to “buy” their market share through tied contracts and legal restrictions preventing a free market. Their revenue streams are more than adequate to support a much greater investment in product development. When a legacy GDS tells you they spend so much money on R&D – take that with a pinch of salt. Much of that expenditure is purely in maintaining the systems’ requirements to remain compliant with the respective authorities. Read development has slowed to a trickle. Lawyers and marketing seems to be a lot more cost effective that real product and customer focus.

Arguably Worldspan was the gold standard for connectivity amongst the legacy GDS players. The company from the mid 1980s developed a number of solutions that provided external system access into the host environment. The company was one of the leading players in opening up the GDS. For this reason it was an early winner in the eCommerce stakes winning most of the major freely contested IBE contracts with the leading OTA players. Sabre as a competitor tended to focus on very strict rules for external system access. Apollo/Galileo was largely non-present and Amadeus was very focused on preserving its monopoly status in its core markets.

At the end of the day the system provider status enabled Worldspan as the smallest GDS – with lesser market share to protect – to develop solutions with its partners and that drove a significant amount of revenue to the owners. Worldspan’s open attitude to technology was well known with the release of many products from a PC all the way up to mainframe connectivity a hallmark of its business. The teams in Atlanta, Kansas City and London paved the way for many innovations in Travel Technology.

Since the acquisition by Travelport and the integration of the company – but not the core systems – Worldspan has lost significant marketshare. It lost Expedia as a customer amongst others. As a result its fortunes have declined and the product line is now seen in many circles as the lesser of the 3 Travelport GDS systems. (The other two are Galileo and Apollo).

Travelport has announced the end of one of the key attributes of the system the universal access. The generic sign on code known to just about every GDS developer is BSIA1234PM/GS.

It has actually some significance. BSIA – B was always better, SI Sign In, A was the work space. 1234 was the generic code and PM was supposed to be the letters for the agent. PM meaning Pars Marketing. GS was the type of sign in – GS-General Sales.

From Feb 11th this will go away and the generic sign will be cancelled. The other generic access 0747 – will also disappear soon. With this – new controls will emerge to ensure that unauthorized system access will be prevented.


So farewell BSIA1234PM/GS - The end of an era.

On this note I would also like to thank the hundreds of people who have commented or contributed to the blog over the past 5 years. I commit that I will continue writing and providing content and commentary on the crazy world of Aviation Travel and Tourism.

And a final thanks to you the readers. Thank you!


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