Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, May 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Travelport has unveiled a new charging structure for its GDS users, prompting unease in the TMC community.
Currently, Travelport charges agencies in a number of different ways, for different products. It means TMCs can pick and choose what they use, and only pay for what they do.
From January 1, however, agencies will be charged under the new Travelport Agility package, with which there is a fee per user.
This has prompted ongoing debate within TMCs, as it also means many will be paying what they say are substantially higher fees.
Bryan Conway, Travelport’s global head of commercial operations and supplier services, said this would increase transparency around GDS fees, but admitted some agencies would end up paying more.
“The current structure until January 1 is that different elements of our products are chargeable. That gets confusing and it’s not clear to the agents,” he said.
“So, we decided to have a simple transparent structure, which is a single monthly charge, effectively per user.”
Conway added that Travelport Agility would also offer more value, as it would include a number of added extras.
Within the package, agencies will gain access to Travelport’s soon-to-launch Smartpoint App, Epricing, and Rooms and More.
“We took the opportunity of the launch of the three products to build those into a broader package,” Conway told ABTN.
“It is the first time we have packaged all of the products that an agent needs in order to do their business into a single package.”
According to Ken McLeod, corporate director at Advantage Travel Centres, TMCs face a “high cost” under the new scheme.
“The challenge that we’ve got is that the GDSs are doing exactly what the airlines are doing and charging for ancillaries,” he said.
“There are a few unhappy people about this. It seems to be that every week there is another cost appearing from above.
“The problem here is it’s not something like APD where, whilst we don’t agree with it, we can pass the cost onto the client. This is something that is quite difficult to pass on, therefore it is an inherent cost to the TMC.”
But according to Conway, the increase in fees should be offset against the increased earning opportunities Agility will give.
For example, Smartpoint is 72% faster in searching for fees, according to Conway, while Rooms and More offers agents more opportunities to earn commissions from bookings.
However, it may be that not all agencies will want to use the additional components of Agility, but they will have to pay for them regardless, pointed out McLeod.
McLeod also criticised the way Travelport had introduced the new fees, and the GDS’s lack of consultation beforehand.
“It took everyone by surprise,” he said. “The timescale is a big issue. They’ve put it in two or three weeks before Christmas, when there is little time to have it implemented for January 1.
“There’s not enough time for people to do due diligence on their systems, and then have a discussion with Travelport about it.
“And if people want to renegotiate their transaction charges with the corporates, there’s no way you can do that at this time of year within the time given.”