Over the next decade, many older agents will retire and be replaced by new workers who have never known a world without the Internet. That will spell big changes for agencies and the tools they use, according to Brian Beard, a technology solutions consultant at Amadeus.
“How many of them will come in and want to do green screen?” he asked during an address at Innovation in Airline Distribution 2012, a conference presented by Travel Technology Research Ltd. and Airline Business magazine
“We used to have junior college programs that taught people how to be agents,” he said. But those programs, which included training in the cryptic commands that the green screen required, no longer exist.
Beard noted that new GDS desktops for agencies are “completely web-based, connecting with social media and displaying airline products the way airlines want them to.”
The green screen has been a “huge source of dissatisfaction” in the industry, Beard said. It has recently been a target of the airline camp that wants the flexibility to do more creative merchandising through the GDSs.
That group has become impatient with the pace of change.
Although new desktops all have new user interfaces that probably can satisfy most airlines’ desires along those lines, “you walk into any agency today and the agents are all on green screen,” one airline executive told Travel Market Report recently.
Accelerating rate of innovation
Beard said that “the debates we have today will be totally different in 10 years,” and all players in the industry must ask themselves: “Am I looking one year out or 10 years out?”
The rate of technology innovation has accelerated dramatically in recent years, he said. Whereas significant achievements occurred once in a decade in the not-so-distant past, they are now occurring several times a year.
Collaboration is key
Beard urged collaboration as the key to working out the differences among the various industry sectors. “If you become protectionist and put walls up around your data, you stand a real threat of not being relevant in the future.”
GDS companies already provide direct connections to airlines, he said. With new technology, “we’ll have better direct connect. GDSs are planning for it. All GDSs are working to get better content passing through the supply chain.”
But, he added, “it’s much easier to go to one source. Someone has to be the aggregator.”