Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Need for Bookings Franchise

I have just returned from World Travel Market, London, 2007, the biggest destination travel show in the world. I spend some time chatting to destination about the Bookings systems they are using. In the Caribbean many are using WWTE a white label product of Expedia. It is not working well.

The problem is that Tour operator (TO) systems just don't work for Destinations. The Destination authority is responsible for marketing its member tourism operators. This means it must use the market channels and not conflict with it. Its prime responsibility is to help its clients get access to markets, be represented in global distribution and to encourage Direct Sales.

The TO booking systems operate on a distribution and Merchant model. They get net rates on hotels, mark them up and resell them, collecting the funds in advance and paying operators. Their systems require clients to abide by their rules and terms including setting aside rooms and units for their exclusive use (allocation). If a small hotel can't do this they often don’t get listed. They don't get listed if they are too small and can’t offer acceptable NET rates. TO systems do not promote direct sales and they don’t build hotel brands. Many are opaque, obscuring the hotel brand in favour of Best Price. The Destination Marketing company has an entirely different objective.

A sensible solution for Destinations is http://BookingsFranchise.com.

PRESS Release:

Powerful New Travel Platform Now Available for Destination Marketers

http://BookingsFranchise.com: Affordable Branded Channels for Direct Marketing. A first of its kind product for tourism destinations and travel portals.

BookingsFranchise.com platform delivers top e-commerce services. It is a powerful full featured solution, integrated with Global Distribution (GDS) and Internet marketing driving Direct Business and Distribution sales. BookingsFranchise is easy for destinations and tourism operators to setup and manage and easy for travelers to use; to get quotes, find, compare and book properties.

It is a proven platform of travel technology, developed and implemented by AXSES for Barbados.org, http://BookingsBarbados.com, http://BookingsStlucia.com and http://IntimateHotelsBarbados.com to name a few.

Ian Clayton CEO of AXSES, says “BookingsFranchise.com lets you do business your way, with your own terms and your rules. Unlike Tour Operator centered system, there are no commissions and no net rates. There is no limit to size of properties and all properties have complete flexibility with terms, inventory models and payment options. Ultimately, it delivers a way to take control of the entire supply chain with supplier centered tools”.

Advance your travel marketing; global exposure, more bookings, more control.
email AXSES BookingsFranchise

For More Information please see http://BookingsFranchise.com

Contact: email AXSES

Ian Clayton, iclayton@axses.com

Knowledge engineering

Tel: 246 429 2653

Do Business your way with multiple client terms, rate plans and rules.

Axses Travel Platform

delivers a fully interactive personalised solution

+ leading technology

http://arcRes.com |
http://arcRes-crs.com |
http://arcRes-pms.com |
http://Portal-keeper.com |



AXSES Solutions cover all aspects of Travel Marketing and tourism Management.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

GDS Chain Codes explained

Private Label Chain Code
A 'chain code' is a two-letter code used by the GDS to identify what chain hotels belong to.
Pegasus has two Chain codes, Utell and Unirez. Utell was the original code, it was used by the large chain hotel which were the first to get connected to the GDS. Utell was heavily promoted to the agents and has good visibility on the network. It uses the netbooker engine and is quiet expensive to set setup and maintain, the costs also cover advertising and promotion associated with Utell. Utell is the world’s largest representation service, representing more than 700,000 rooms worldwide
The Unirez code was purchased by Pegasus in order to offer a simpler lower cost "access only" to GDS. It has become popular with smaller hotel who could not afford the UTELL costs.
Many hotel chains and hotel marketing companies have their own 'private label chain code'. With a private chain code marketers can focus on marketing the unique characteristics of its members’ properties to the GDS and other electronic distribution channels. Agents who know the gds code often look for properties listed with it first. For example, "Special Hotels of the World" advertise and promote the "GW" chain code, a "GW" BRAND. Agents will often look for a brand they know to find hotels that fit that category.
The Unirez brand is considered the small hotels brand, whereas the Utell brand is associated with large chains. If a travel agent was looking for smaller hotels they might try the Unirez code rather than look for ALL brands or Utell.
The GDS chain code is an important sales tool used by hotel marketing programs.
© Ian Clayton, AXSES SCI 2007.
see arcRes solutions for tourism, AXSES web Solution

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

GDS Next Generation

The GDS' are the distribution backbone for travel agents, in-house corporate travel departments, and many of the Internet distribution systems like Expedia. They deliver rates and availability information for travel covering air, hotel and car rentals. The information is delivered to the travel agent, so that it appears on their desktop computer using special software to search, display rates and book.
The GDS' Hotel information was originally all input by hand and this is still done manually in many cases. Pegasus employed a house full of workers to do this work, much of this is now out sourced to India. The process is very tedious and time prone to error. Once the information is loaded software system maintain the rate and inventory changes in all GDS. The Pegasus Switch coordinates hotel information bewteen gds sytsems. Data from hotel chains, Internet sites and GDS agents all at some piont use this switch.

To avoid delays and errors hotels and their technology providers opted to integrate the GDS information with their own reservations and property management solutions. This was called seamless integration. 2 way seamless refers to the systems that can manage GDS rates from the hotel CRS or PMS. One way integration simply means the hotel system can view the GDS sales but not manage the data.
Seamless Integration is not the same as NEXT GENERATION.
Next Generation capability was built by the GDS to allow compatible systems to input the data directly into the GDS´s. There are several such sytems in place. (list of services). This means that a hotel might use an online form to input their rates and data and this goes directly into the GDS. It substantially reduces the time to get to market and eliminates some errors when re-keying data. GDS sold this option to vendors who it turn incorporated it into their hotel solutions. Some setup shop as GDS agents to offer this service.

The technology to update a mainframe is not trivial. It involves robotics that interface online internet system with GDS mainframe computers. Mainframes are not Internet savvy computers and cannot be accessed directly to change and add data. The data is sent via packets relayed on telecommunications network. The packet relay is interpreted by the Mainframe. As these mainframes are all different systems, protocols and standards were created. Mainframes also have very specific rules on what characters are accepted. Charters and in some cases words act as tigers to set off process in a mainframe, so the information sent to a mainframe must be accurate and comply with their rules. Even years after implementation the GDS-load process was finding errors in data integrity. A simple quotation mark can trigger a failure with disastrous results.
The Pegasus switch (originally called thisco, now called Utraswitch) is not a next generation technology. That is why Pegasus bought a similar system developed by Trust that was. Pegasus plans to upgrade all system by 2008 with conversions starting with hotel factory (their Central reservation system) in November 2007. Pegasus PR


Next Generation provides GDS users with real-time rates and availability that is 100% identical to the information used by a hotel company's own reservations staff. The information is more quickly available and more accurate resulting in increased confidence and usability by agents. With NEXT generation Seamless, agents are more inclined to sell more using the GDS rather than book via telephone to assure their clients the lowest rates. Galileo Inside Shopper, Worldspan Integrated Hotel Source, Sabre Direct Connect Shop, the respective GDS' Next Generation Seamless products, were implemented by 2004.

GDS Chain Codes

© Ian Clayton, AXSES SCI 2007.
see arcRes solutions for tourism, AXSES web Solution

GDS History

GDS, CRS and channel management
The GDS have long been the primary source of travel agents bookings in the world. Today they do much more and supply content rates and hotel inventory to thousands of On-line Travel website.
The GDS systems are a huge network of thousands of computers set up originally by companies like Sabre, WorldSapn. Amedeus, Galileo and Pegasus. They provided Computer Based Reservations (CRS) services to all travel agents long before the Internet. These system are still in place and are used by more that 480,000 agents worldwide.
When you visit a Travel Agent you will see them at the CRS to find and book flights and resorts.
It has traditionally been an expensive distribution system requiring setup fees in the thousands of dollars as well as booking fees, transaction fees and agents commissions. As a result many smaller hotels are not represented in the GDS and GDS have not been too interested in this sector as they problem of coordinating inventory has been too great (a small hotel just does not have a sufficient supply of rooms to justify the effort of cost them up).

With the advent of new technology this has changed. Now there are GDS agent companies who specialise in supplying content to the GDS computers. The Internet also makes it easier to get the information and distribute it. This has made GDS widely available to hotels of all size. An inovator in opening up the Market was Tom Egan of reserv, who single handedly changed the face of distribution by offering an easy to use system with no setup fees and no minimum charges. His system worked on next Generation technology meaning that the entire process of setting up a hotel was done on-line, no manual entry. Alas Tom sold out and his ideas hot the dust.
2 way integration
New e-commerce systems (such as arcRes http://Bookings-Expert.com, http://axses-innkeeper.com and http://arcRes-CRS.com) are integrated with the GDS system to make it even easier and more affordable for hotels to market throught GDS. The two way integration makes it easier to setup and to manage rates and inventory in multiple channels. It essentially means that a hotel can use their own web booking engine or front desk software (that is GDS integrated) to see and process GDS reservation and to update allocation and rates. This is a great advantage as it means less to learn and to manage.
see also GDS Next Generation Seamless
A major problem facing the industry now is the proliferation of vendors. Whereas before we had a few key Tour Operators, now there are numerous Internet companies, like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotel.com, Priceline.com and many others that have vastly more exposure that the traditional Tour Operators. Getting products onto these system and maintaining rates, content and inventory requires full time management and is not feasible for many small resorts.

Fortunatly new hotel tools like arcRes Website Bookings Engine (Bookings-Expert) now provide a single system to maintain. It also makes rates management easier by allow suppliers to specify any rate in any channel as a % of another rates or a markup on costs. Other companies like AXSES are working on building tools that will change the face of distribution giving suppliers (hotels and tourism operators) control over the supply chain. The new model emerging is supplier centered, supply chain management.

In the new business model the hotel and tourism operator tools (field tools) are fully integrated at the operator level and with downstream distribution. For example the web bookings engine is integrated with property management, housekeeping and inventory. All this is integrated with the GDS system and destination portals like http://BookingsStlucia.com as well as with the GDS, and retail sites like http://travelocity.com feeding from the central database updated by arcRes.

Very Long Ago.
The history of the development of GDS is a great story. One of the best accounts I have seen is available at http://www.innadvance.com/index5.htm
In breif, it follows the development of a reservation systems spearheaded by American Airlines. The startup of ThisCo the switch that connected hotels to the airlines and travel agents systems and all the steps leading up to that.

© Ian Clayton, AXSES SCI 2007.
see arcRes solutions for tourism, AXSES web Solution

GDS in transitions

With so much happening in the world of travel its a good idea to share what we know.

For Example, i have been watching the press releases re Pegasus purchase of wizcom from www.trustinternational.com/, a travelport company, and part of the Cendant empire. The stories say trust has decided to vacate that part of the business. An insider says not so, the are building a new GDS next generation interface!.

Where does that leave Pegasus, did they get sold a bundle?. Pegs says NO, They are actively promoting the Next "Next Generation" at the HITEC show june 2007.

More >>>>

GDS History


ArcRes GDS integrated bookings

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Strategy for Small Travel Solutions companies

This article was inspired by my visit to the travel Technology Show 2007.

See previous blog

At AXSES we believe that ultimate control of distribution rest with the travel operator. That means the hotel, activity and rental company supplier.

Hotels have encouraged distribution dominance by offering huge discounts to tour operators in exchange for guaranteed bookings. At the same time the distributors had marketing clout and could afford the technology that consumers demanded (on line booking, dynamic packaging etc). In a fragmented global market, distributors emerged as the place to shop.

The tour operators set their own rules and resell price. Prices in distribution were thus often much lower that the hotel published rates. As competing distributors try to match rates the pressure on hotel profitability is intense. Often a hotel that would not meet a requested price would be dropped. In this agressive distribution driven market, the hotel Brand was eroded and rates fragmented.

The large hotel chains have moved effectively to take back control with Best Rate Guarantees and by offering consumers the service (technology) they demand. (on-line costing, bookings, packaging). Thanks to technology, operators have increased and continue to increase their influence via direct bookings and by greater clout in managed distribution pricing and inventory.

At the same time “travel consumers are exchanging more information and exerting much greater influence over online content - from travel blogs to social networking, they are driving change” (source).

Travelers prefer to deal direct(1) and the core technology that is driving this trend is Field Management Systems and small travel application developers and integrators play a large part in delivering these solutions.

Consider AXSES portal clients like Intimate hotels of Barbados. The Intimate portal is managed by Portal-keeper.com and arcRes-CRS (central reservations Systems) these solutions are fully integrated with GDS and with the hotel bookings and (bookings-expert.com) and Property Management System http://axses-innkeeper.com.

In this senario the small hotels can manage the rates and inventory on the Intimate Hotels Barbados Portal as well as the GDS. The technology they use not only powers Intimate in Barbados but at least 10 other channels that are vital marketing forces for Barbados and the Caribbean. The next step is to add full channel management extending to sites like Expedia, Travelocity and all 40,000 IDS sites.

1. PhoCusWright 2005: "In fact, more than twice as many online travelers (36%) believe that the supplier-direct channel provides the best customer service compared to 15% who choose the online travel agency channel. Even offline agencies, which are coveted for their personal touch in a technology-driven world, did not fare as well, with 33% claiming they provide the best customer service". ....more

Friday, 16 February 2007

Travel Technology Show 2007

Travel Technology blog on TTS 07.

I will report in full next week. Here are a few thoughts of what it might mean to small travel technology companies like AXSES

Many of the show vendor were distribution aggregators. These mega-systems, search multiple platforms and sites to find, aggregate, evaluate and render results in under 35 MS. The task is massive.

Nearly everyone claims to offer dynamic packaging!!. Mostly this is limited to accommodation, cars and air. The booking of destination activities is still underdeveloped. >>> more to follow.

A number of experts point out that with all this massive computing power, the systems are not working well. FredHopper and HitchHiker demoed how many empty results there are for a detail request on several of the large systems. There are it seems many "holes" in the content. While the search algorithms and options have improved the content lags.

Luke Mellors of Expotel http://exportel.com says hotel content on GDS is a joke. Most hotels on the GDS are chains. The few small hotels on the systems load just 1 or 2 rooms and these are usually at HIGHEST rate. "Its just not respresentative of the industry".

I attended 3 session: "Mobile markets", "Blogs" and "Hotel Distribution".
>>> more later!!

I also attended many product demos including: Airline tickets to mobiles (e2 systems). Website merchandising (Fredhopper; observs the need to employ user logic to provide alternatives to all the "holes" in information). Eliminating the papertrail (stortexfm). Developing a winning wesite strategy (Netizen incl. incl. an interesting SEO summary). >>> more later!!

I handed out cards for our business but left no brochures. Solution suppliers at this sort of show are interested only in selling their solutions. A couple of vendors were interested in on-selling our hotels through their networks (travelberry.com and expotel.com). Expotel has 15,000 resorts and is bigger that any GDS!!. Some marketing co's were interested in advertising their major clients like British Virgin, on our sites like http://barbados.org .

INSIGHTS for travel technology development

While most TTS exhibitors were concentrating on massive distribution system there was not much for the small hotel and specialty channels.

Luke Mellors of Exportel, suggest that field management systems (eg: PMS, Yield management, Channel Management etc) will control distribution in the future. He points out that the massive distribution systems are not grass routes. They are not ultimate suppliers and cant control the content well.

This leaves an opening for small companies to build feld management solutions that are integrated with Global distribution and specialty channels >>> more >>> see AXSES Travel Technology Strategy.


The travel supplier is the hotel and activity not the GDS and aggregator.

The best dynamic packages technology solutions will be grass route systems on hotel websites and focused destination channels.

Give hotels the tools to take back control of the market!!