By Alan Minton, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Cornerstone
There is nothing like using a Peter Allen song title from All That Jazz to do a setup for a tech review but I am a fan of obscure cultural references so this is what you get.
Recently the travel trade media has run stories on “new” technology capabilities offered by Yapta and ExpertFlyer.
Yapta’s claim to fame is they can search the GDS for a better fare on a flight thus ensuring the traveler receives the best deal. Pretty cool.
ExpertFlyer provides their customer’s with the capability of searching for a better seat as defined by the travelers preference. Again, pretty cool. In fact, both ideas are really cool and provide a measurable value to almost any traveler. After all, who doesn’t want to save money and avoid the dreaded middle seat?
Here is the part that these stories forget to mention. Any travel agency that has used a mid-office system like Cornerstone’s iQCX or those offered by the two technology companies recently swallowed up by Concur have had this ability for the past 20 years. On top of that, IQCX’s FareChecker and SeatChecker modules are managed by a business rules system, meaning that you customize the search for a virtually unlimited set of possibilities.
For example, what do you do when the price drops $100? You say yes and celebrate your savings, right? To quote Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” What if the change fee on the airline is $150 and the service fee is $25? If you accept the “better” fare simple math will tell you that you are out $75.
If you read the fine print in the ExpertFlyer article (“If a better seat is found, agents are alerted through the application in the Sabre workspace or through optional email alerts. It is then up to the agent to re-assign.”) you learn that manual intervention has not been removed and thus potential labor savings have been reduced and opportunities for errors still exist.
In short, valuable capabilities that have been available for more than two decades have been repackaged and seem to be all the rage even though more than 300 Cornerstone customers have these capabilities available on the nearly half billion reservations we will process this year.
I am looking forward to the next story about a technology that can monitor waitlist to help travelers get the flight they need/prefer so they can do their jobs better and more efficiently. Anybody want to talk about iQCX’s WaitlistChecker? day-trips .