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ARTA Joins Open AXIS GroupMay 3, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Arguing that alternative distribution tools are essential to the growth and profitability of travel agencies, the Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) announced that it has joined the Open AXIS Group as an allied member. ARTA's sister organization, ARTA Canada, joined the Open AXIS Group earlier this year.
"We cannot ignore the ongoing expansion of alternative distribution tools outside the GDS environment and feel our members, in fact all travel agencies, owe it to themselves to keep abreast of these important developments. Joining Open AXIS will help ARTA maintain closer ties with these new distribution platforms and help us to assist our members in better understanding these options", said ARTA Chairwoman Nancy Linares.
Part of ARTA's decision to join Open AXIS now was the unwillingness of the U.S. Department of Transportation to force airlines to provide ancillary fee data to GDSs, ARTA said.
In addition, ARTA said it was mindful of the recent decision by Delta Air Lines to not only enter into a distribution agreement with Open AXIS member, Farelogix, but also to make its new international premium economy product—"Economy Comfort"—available solely via direct distribution (delta.com)—including Farelogix—but, as reported in the media, not via the GDS channel.
"ARTA is convinced that GDSs will simply not provide the pricing and technology which airlines are demanding in their pursuit of cost reduction and more intimate relationships with travel agents. We see the growth of alternative distribution tools in the indirect channel (travel agencies and travel management companies) as the wave of the future, and we will do everything in our power to assist our U.S. and Canadian members to benefit from these new opportunities," said ARTA Managing Director and ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins.
ARTA will be participating in the focus group announced by Open AXIS to address enhancements to the graphical elements included on the desktop solutions of these new booking tools. The next round of discussions takes place later this month, ARTA said.