Travel agents could boost airline ancillary revenue threefold via technology being integrated by the global distribution systems and other airline system suppliers.
According to a report, technology called Electronic Miscellaneous Documents is bringing a la carte transactions to the travel agency community via global distribution systems and airline reservation systems.
The IdeaWorks ‘ABCs of EMDs’ report estimates airline ancillary revenue could grow to $100 billion annually through travel agent involvement.
In 2011, ancillary revenue is estimated to be worth $32.5 billion but the report shows this could increase to $100 billion as la carte services such as baggage fees, in-flight entertainment and food and drink are made available for travel agents to book.
The report says that more than 60% of airline bookings worldwide are still carried out by agents on GDS, both online and offline, representing a greater market than that already tapped into.
IdeaWorks goes on to say that ‘best results’ for airlines ancillary revenue equal just under a third of ticket revenue despite predictions from some that earnings from ancillaries could one day make flying free.
IATA has said its 230 member airlines should be EMD ready before the end of 2012 and that the technology should become the only way to settle payments with the travel agency community by the end of 2013.
However, other sources believe airlines will continue to sell ancillaries via a number of different technologies.
Of IATA members, three airlines are already using EMDs while a further 25 have developed the capability.
The report shows that EMDs will play a vital role in making the provision of ancillary services similar to e-ticketing for airlines and travel agency back office systems.
IdeaWorks claims Amadeus has made a la carte services available to agents via its distribution system while Sabre¬†unveiled a global roll out of Air Total Pricing last year making such services available to just under 57,000 GDS subscribers.
According to the report, ¬†Travelport¬†will unveil its offering in 2012.