Voices of Travel

TALKING GLOBAL

The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) held its bi-annual board meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil recently with the session focused on a range of issues impacting the global travel agency industry and sharing common problem-solving strategies. “It is crystal clear to everyone that the travel industry is truly a global industry and despite geopolitical boundaries that often separate us, the issues we face are shared,” observed WTAAA chairman Lars Thykier. “As an industry, it’s important that we work together to discuss ways we can improve the business of selling travel for our members, and at the same time improve the process of travelling for the consumers they represent.” WTAAA’s president said. The WTAAA board covered IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), airline debit memos (ADM), visa facilitation and other industry issues. The global agency association is closely monitoring IATA’s NDC project and continues to encourage IATA to maintain an open dialogue on NDC and to ensure that travel agents views are taken seriously. Many of WTAAA members are also on IATA’s recently formed Agents-Airlines Forum (AAF), which meets regularly to review distribution issues, including NDC. Thykier indicated that he’s pleased that IATA has opened the NDC dialogue with WTAAA, observing: “As part of this dialogue, WTAAA has shared a list of concerns with IATA, which include, but are not limited to, three major issues. First, NDC appears to eliminate or reduce consumers’ ability to carry out neutral comparison shopping, which currently promotes competition of airfares between carriers. Second, NDC appears to require the disclosure of consumers’ personal data as a precondition for obtaining a fare quote, which raises a host of data privacy concerns. And third, NDC appears to impose huge costs directly on to travel agencies, and indirectly to their customers, as travel agency systems and processes would need to be redesigned to accommodate NDC.” And he added that: “We have made it clear to IATA that we are not opposed to a more efficient way of doing business, however we need to ensure that the end justifies the means for everyone (consumers and travel agents), and not just the airlines.” WTAAA will hold its next board meeting in early November in Cordoba, Spain.

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