Change is coming to travel technology, driven by access to data and eager developers
Lest we forget, travel technology – for all its complexities and inherent challenges – is actually a vibrant sector and well mined by the independent developer community.
However it suffers at the hands of the incumbent players who tend to be somewhat stodgy in their approach to promoting innovation.
The key stakeholders here are arguably the GDSs, but they find themselves under attack from a number of places.
The airlines in the form of IATA are starting an initiative to create more standards in airline distribution. The share of GDS segments continues to decline and developers are frustrated with the level of access to data, which is far below that of other industries.
The company’s chief technology officer, Jim Peters, is infectious in his unabashed enthusiasm for opening up the world of airlines based technology. And the timing is right.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is sweeping through all sectors of the commercial world and the formerly closed ecosystem of travel is no exception.
This eager world of developers is hungry to build solutions that meet the need – both perceived and actual – of the traveling public. The day of the omnibus solution is over.
Standards, however, are essential to this process. OpenTravel has been developing its OpenTravel 2.0 next-generation set that not only updates the data elements but streamlines and transforms the processes and interconnectivity of the users.
Hoping to sweep away the legacy of heavy overhead infrastructure that first generation XML standards brought with them from ALC and EDIFACT, these new messages are lighter and more efficient.
Change however does not come without cost nor is it painless. The embedded base of messages and standards will take time to evolve.
But the time for placid evolution is no longer here. High speed change and perhaps an innovation revolution in travel technology is happening now with and without the traditional players.
There are many willing parties who are eager to become participants and they are finding will investors. Anyone who wishes to remain any kind of gatekeeper in this work will, as in so many other industry sectors, find themselves swept away.
The wealth of available talent and tools to aid the developer of travel technology solutions is growing daily.
Those of us who have been in this world for a long time must embrace this change and help drive the necessary advances in both technology and commercial models.
NB: Developers image via Shutterstock.
Timothy O'Neil-Dunne is a contributing Node to Tnooz. He writes about travel, in particular aviation, technology, startups and innovation.
He has two day jobs: managing partner at travel consultancy firm T2Impact, where he serves as the lead for the airline, aviation and airport practice. He is also co-founder of VaultPAD, an accelerator devoted exclusively to travel and travel-related startup businesses. One of the first companies to emerge from the incubator is Air Black Box, a cloud-based software company providing Airline Connectivity Solutions.
Timothy was a founding management team member of the Expedia team, where he headed the international and ground transportation portfolios. He also spent time with Worldspan as head of technology, where he managed international technology services from infrastructure to product.
Timothy is also a permanent advisor to the World Economic Forum and writes as Professor Sabena. He sits on a number of advisory and executive boards.