Month-old standards body¬†Open Axis Group picked up Frontier Airlines as a full member and air-search vendors Everbread and Vayant Travel Technologies as allied members — but ITA Software is looking on from the sidelines.
Open Axis actually picked up seven new allied members, and it’s interesting to see which companies have joined and which others have kept their distance.
In addition to Everbread and Vayant, Guestlogix, Navitaire, Traveldata (Japan), TripIt and Ypsilon.net were named today as allied members. Allied members which previously joined are the Airline Tariff Publishing Co. [as a founding allied member], AOI Marketing, ARC, Datalex, eNett International, Farelogix, LUTE Technologies, Mobiata, Pass Consulting Group and Radixx International.
So, if ITA Software is airline-centric and still trying to get traction with its Passenger Service System, then why wouldn’t it join an airline-oriented group charged with developing airline standards for optional services?
“ITA is a strong supporter of industry standards, and will adopt new ones that will help us deliver the technology solutions that¬†our¬†customers demand,” says ITA Software spokeswoman Cara Kretz. “We are aware of the new standards proposed by the Open Axis Group and intend to monitor its developments.”
Actually, ITA Software for several years had been a member of travel industry standards body OpenTravel, but dropped out in January.
“ITA does support and implement OTA [Open Travel Alliance] standards, but we discontinued our membership and attending the meetings because it was not a good use of our developers time,” Kretz says.
Perhaps ITA is truly waiting to see what happpens with Open Axis after already getting all it needed to out of the OpenTravel standards it implemented and further developed.
ITA’s potential allegiances to standards’ bodies likely also will be influenced by the Google acquisition, if the deal closes.
Don’t expect an Open Axis or even OpenTravel announcement any time soon about Google signing onto either standards body even as Google seeks to close on its acquisition of ITA Software and gets more heavily involved in travel.
Google has gone its own way and uses proprietary XML schema to connect hotels to its maps with hotel search and pricing, even as one major chain pushed Google to adopt Open Travel schema.
“But, Google is not a joiner,” says one travel industry executive. “They won’t join anyone.”
Each company probably has its own commercial reasons when considering whether or not to join a standards body.
It’s hard to say what Open Axis Group’s membership roster — and notable no-shows — means for the organization at this time.
On the one hand, memberships give the organization stature and a sense of traction. After all, it’s been said many times that standards are not standards unless they gain wide acceptance.
However, even without joining, companies will be able to use any standards that Open Axis develops because they will be freely available.
Among the no-shows so far, the global distribution systems are still pondering whether they will join or how they will relate to Open Axis, even as they say they are developing their own standards for optional services.
So far, no online travel agencies — Travelocity and Orbitz have strong ties to GDS parents — have joined Open Axis, although Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and their sister OTA brands are members of OpenTravel.
Southwest Airlines, the carrier with the largest domestic business in the U.S., has not joined Open Axis, and has traditionally been reluctant to connect much with anyone, although its distribution bent has softened in recent years.
And, much-sought-after foreign carriers, with the exception of Air Canada, have yet to enroll in Open Axis.
Also missing in action so far are huge system integrators, HP [which also owns the SHARES airline reservations system] and IBM, both of which are OpenTravel members and do a tremendous amount of work with airlines.
There are no travel management companies or tour operators on the Open Axis allied membership rolls, either.
Still, for an organization that was founded July 13, Open Axis has a fairly impressive who’s who list for such a short period of existence.