Formerly booking processes were straight forward. One system, easy reporting and few or no alternatives. This has changed. The internet has brought alternatives to the market. TMCs providing OBTs/ SBTs to their customers, low-cost carriers selling via the internet or new distribution strategies of airlines (New Distribution Capability) are some developments that have formed a new eco-system of travel distribution. These changes are driven by the need to lower costs and drive revenues. The use of OBTs and SBTs reduces the workload. Using various booking platforms TMCs give access to more and less expensive supply. The ability to manage bookings from various channels can be a competitive advantage if the downstream process works efficiently. Measuring ROI is crucial, as you want to be sure that the resources invested lead to the right results.
Having more options to book seems to be good at first. In the context of the post booking process these new opportunities need to be weighed off carefully. Bookings made through alternative sources can lead to additional workload. This in return has the power to neutralise the positive effects.
One of the services TMCs provide to corporate customers is reporting. The most efficient way to produce reports is getting the information from one source.
TMCs create passive segments also known as Ghost PNR in a GDS to deliver comprehensive reports and to use the existing mid-office workflows. Solving the problem in short-term this work-around comes with some drawbacks.
The Ghost PNR can negatively impact business performance by increased cost and/or manual work. The more TMCs book on alternative platforms, the more this will create additional workload and TMCs will have to pay for each Ghost PNR to the GDS. With a limited amount of bookings conducted on alternatives systems, this still is an acceptable time and cost investment. But it is no scalable solution for a TMC business. Therefore, the advantages of the using new sources cannot be exploited to its full extent. GDS and other booking platforms are of course aware of the additional workload and provide solutions to improve the service experience with passive segments.
This is where mid-office systems that invest in connectivity to alternative booking platforms deliver a long-term solution. Not only does a mid-office system offer automation reducing manual work, improving efficiency and eliminating human error, but it also broadens a TMC's service portfolio in parallel to reducing costs. Aggregating data in your mid-office software will make your business more independent of single suppliers, provide you with negotiation power and improve your business performance.
On conferences we often hear that mid-office solutions with a broad connectivity will benefit from these developments. The fact that mid-office software suppliers are asked to contribute to workshops such as the IATA NDC Implementation workshop support the future role mid-office solutions play in the development of alternative distribution strategies.
The market is becoming more diverse and complexity of IT landscapes in TMCs will increase. TMCs already use alternative booking solutions to improve their competitive position. A mid-office that provides a broad connectivity portfolio enables TMC's to focus on the core competence of selling travel to corporates instead of having to put effort into maintaining complex IT landscapes.
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