February 26, 2008

Germany embraces travel industry communities.

Communities are powering the internet, collaboration is the new norm, and Germany is the new Hotspot for Travel Industry internet communities. They will be hosting 2 grass roots events in a one month time period, Tourismus Camp and the PhoCusWright Bloggers Summit@ITB.

On February 9th, the first TourismusCamp (think Barcamp meets tourism) was hosted in Eichstaett. This meet up was organized by my associate, Jens Oellrich who will also join the me at ITB. Here is a link to the event wiki, translated into English.

I have had the pleasure of coordinating the first international bloggers summit; the PhoCusWright@ITB bloggers summit is bringing a group of over 30 bloggers from more then a 12 different countries together. This event is combining a Tips From The T-List workshop that is open to the public, exclusive blogger interviews with travel industry executives, access to the great PhoCusWright conference information and some good times.

We have brought the bloggers together into one place for everyone to stay up to date on the latest blogger content, go to itb2008.tipsfromthetlist.com for photos, videos and the latest blog posts from an international group of bloggers on this amazing event!

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February 8, 2008

Were do GDS' fit in? - The strength of the Middle Man

What does a GDS do?
Well to sum up a bloated technological legacy system, they connect travel suppliers with those that want to buy the travel products; an electronic travel product catalog or marketplace if you will. The primary users of GDS' are travel/internal agents (through a CRS) and consumers (through an Internet portal/OTA).

Why are they needed?
GDS' work well with the traditional distribution system thinking, clients or customers can go to one centralized location to find their travel requirements. This relationship is controlled by the GDS and the reservation is processed through their distribution system. This simplifies the booking process for most of the stakeholders.

What are the challenges?
onsumers, resellers and suppliers are charged a premium for using this 'travel catalog'; a premium that is not cheap. As online technology becomes more accessible, suppliers are opting to offer online sales capabilities through their own websites, thus cutting off the GDS completely.

What does the future look like?
Travel Suppliers are finding that they are able to cut out the GDS and Travel agent, offer similar sales functionality to their customers, and increase thier bottom line. That is a danger for the GDS.

One area that holds promise for the GDS' is the amalgmation of online communities with a travel retail component. As online sites develop into niche communities, travel products will find a natural integration. Sabre has recently launched a business travel social network named 'Cubeless' (sounds like a way to order a drink..) that looks to unite business travelers as they globe trot for their company. My friend Norm Rose was interviewed for BTN Online about social networking for business travelers:

"Most corporate travel managers think about broadcasting out," he said. "The idea of getting feedback and having the visibility to that is not yet on the radar of many travel managers, but can serve a valuable purpose of cultivating the natural tendencies of travelers wanting to talk to each other."
Cubless will be launched with American Express travel. I am curious to see if business travelers are the most effective market for this social community as they may already have a number of other programs, meetings and platforms they deal with. What do you think, are GDS' evolving fast enough? What do you see as the next steps?
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