The boss of Click Travel has defended his company’s direct connect deal with Lufthansa in the face of criticism of the concept by GTMC chief executive Paul Wait.
Click Travel executive chairman Simon McLean said that the motivation behind the deal with the German airline group was “certainly not” to avoid the €16 distribution fee agencies are charged on global distribution systems.
“Sure, that was one compelling reason behind the decision, but the main driving force was that connecting directly gives us the ability to further enhance the current customer experience – something that we’re always striving to find new, innovative ways to do at Click Travel. And that’s the same for all of the direct connects we have today – it’s all about the customer experience.”
McLean added: “The easiest way to illustrate that there really are tangible benefits for customers who have access to direct-connect-only content is with an example; sign up for travel.cloud – it’s free – and do a flight search for any Lufthansa route.
“You will quickly be able to see for yourself how GDS and direct content is transparently mixed in the results, enabling seamless comparison shopping.”
He highlighted that travel.cloud users are currently benefiting from no distribution charges – “gaining parity with Lufthansa’s direct pricing and exclusive direct-connect-only content whilst still enjoying transparent, seamless comparison shopping with GDS content, so direct connect is certainly not damaging to them”.
McLean admitted: “Direct connect deals will definitely change how TMCs work commercially and Click Travel is ready for this – in fact, we’ve been preparing for this for a while.”
He denied that the knock-on effect would be high costs to customers and said: “The commercials of TMC2.0 – if you will – are such that there will be no increase in cost to the customer. In fact, we’re already reducing the fees our customers pay us on the back of direct connect technology.”
Responding to Wait’s concerns that anything outside of GDS booking has a negative impact on productivity, McLean said: “This is a very valid point and GTMC are right to be concerned about this on behalf of their more traditional members.
“These changes will challenge TMCs who lack the technical infrastructure to adapt, but it’s also a great opportunity for those willing to embrace those changes.”
Wait argued earlier this week that a TMC cannot satisfactorily service the complex requirements of the corporate customer without the GDS.
But McLean said: “This implies that it’s impossible to provide management information, reporting, duty of care and a cost effective service if you are aggregating content rather than depending on the GDS, however Click Travel are evidence to the contrary, as we’ve been doing precisely this for years.
“From search and book, to billing, reporting, analytics, traveller tracking, security services and third party data feeds – none of what we do depends on the GDS, hence it all works seamlessly with whatever content we aggregate.
“We’ve achieved this because our vision has always incorporated and embraced the potential of direct connects. As such we’ve built a future-proof technical platform whose services are agnostic to the source of content.”