The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Resolution 787 currently before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for review, represents what is perhaps the most important potential industry development in a generation, according to Kevin Mitchell, chairman, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC).
"If approved by DOT, Resolution 787 - also called IATA's New Distribution Capacity - will impact every travel industry segment and all participants in the value chain for generations to come, " Mitchell said.
Underscoring Mitchell's point, Paul Ruden, Esq., ASTA's SVP legal and industry affairs, took the unusual step of making a compelling 3-minute ASTA video on IATA Resolution 787 stressing the need for involvement of agents and all other sectors of the industry.
Ruden stresses that Resolution 787 could impact not just air sales but cruise, tour and hotel sales.
Both ASTA's Ruden and BTC's Mitchell - respected industry leaders - also urge attendance at ASTA's Global Convention from September 16 - 19 in Miami when several sessions on IATA's Resolution 787 are planned.
"ASTA extends an invitation to all corporate, university and government travel managers and buyers as well as the travel management companies and suppliers that support them, " Mitchell said. " I urge you to consider attending this epic industry gathering and participate. Don't sit this one out; help lead the industry."
ASTA's Ruden notes that IATA will participate as will the GDS's.
"The Convention is the only place where all the key players will be present to address these issues - airlines, GDSs, travel agents. The industry must understand first hand what is coming," Ruden said.
Key reasons for attending and for getting involved, cited by both Ruden and Mitchell include:
1. Retail travel selling is about to undergo a revolution.
2. The impact will be bigger than elimination of commissions and as important as automation itself.
3. Airlines are leading the way in changing the way travel is sold, but cruise lines and hotels will eventually follow.
4. The ability to shop anonymously and to compare base prices and services will be challenged by a new approach.
5. “Enhanced Distribution” or “Personalized Merchandising” is coming -- offers received from travel suppliers will depend on the identity and characteristics of the traveler.
6. Even on websites, airlines will know if an agent is shopping for a client, which may affect the offers made.
7. Travel agents will be in the middle of massive consumer confusion and conflict involving clients and suppliers.
Both the BTC and ASTA have let the fight for widespread understanding of IATA's Resolution 787.
A DOT decision on IATA's resolution is expected later this year and both ASTA and the BTC have raised objections to the New Distribution Capacity and questioned its impact on travel distribution.