XML

Airlines are pushing hard to use XML for defining and exchanging fare data instead of the current standard which is more than 4 decades old.  One company, Farelogix, is showing just how smart it can be to use this because it allows airlines to define an entire fare by more than just a base price.

Airlines will be able to use this data presentation to present a more full picture of what is available and the traditional GDS (Global Distribution System) companies do not like this one bit.  They want their death clutch on the data in the form of the industry proprietary standard and they want it fuzzed up.

Truth be told, I took airlines to task for trying to eliminate GDS companies from the equation a couple of years ago.  Now I would like to take GDS companies to task for not being a part of the solution.

So much of the airline industry relies upon what is, at best, very much legacy IT systems.  Even the most modern reservations systems aren’t so much modern as they are just not as old as others.

A good deal of my day job involves understanding the various propositions involved in IT systems for both transmitting as well as processing data.  I’m on the airlines’ side.

XML is the right choice and, frankly, there really shouldn’t be debate on this question.  It’s smart, it’s flexible, it’s an open standard and it’s used by every modern IT system.

Yes, GDS companies are going to have to re-engineer their entire systems.  Tough.  This is the kind of thing that should have been done 10 years ago and was done by many other industries.

Yes, it’s going to present more opportunities to present data in more ways tailored to a customer.  Yes, it could be tailored in ways that might seem threatening.  My response is that the more we encourage information and options in this system on the part of both airlines as well as GDS companies, the better things will get for a customer.  Seriously.

Information is power.   Why do you think a better, more open and more complete standard for data is so threatening to incumbent GDS companies?

XML defined data open up possibilities for more efficient IT systems using the latest in protocols such as DDS (Dynamic Data Distribution) to be built.  This means IT systems get less costly for airlines, more robust for consumers and if GDS companies want to remain in the game, they can figure out how to add value just like the rest of us in the real world.

This really is what we want as consumers and we would be well advised to break this GDS hold on this data.

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