Hacker Fares…the dirty little secrets of the experienced flier EXPOSED!!!

September 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm 2 comments

by Tony

Ok, I’ll admit that the title might suggest I spend too much time on the supermarket check-out line paging through the tabloids, but I really do need to know what size Kirstie Alley is wearing from week to week, why Jennifer Aniston can’t seem to keep a man (I have a theory on that one), and why Marc Anthony went sideways on J-Lo?

But in addition to my tabloid reading this week, I came across this USA Today article by Dennis Schaal about the latest feature from meta search company Kayak.

Seems Kayak has automated the process of combining one way air fares and is trumpeting savings as a result.   While mixing two one-ways fares to get a better deal is certainly not new, it was previously reserved for the savvy traveler who “knew the rules” or for any good travel agent worth a service fee. In fact, there was a time in the not too distant past where certain combinations were considered taboo (yes, taboo like the story I read about the Octomon’s need for true love), but as the article suggests, those times … they are a changin’.

But while the search has been automated, the process itself is not without complication once the fare is found. The meta search process simply leaves you at the airline website, or in this case two airline websites, where the traveler will need to make two separate bookings. And with that, comes a level of complexity and uncertainly that would turn many off to the idea.

The article closes by suggesting that the complexity associated with this process could be managed by your friendly TMC….. “Travel agents have been offering split tickets for years. They can eliminate the risk to the traveler if one of the flights turns up unavailable, because they would merely book a different itinerary.” So score one for the TMC, but the author quickly added, “However, travel agents may not have access to all the lowest fares, because some low-cost carriers don’t participate in their reservations systems, and even when they do, those airlines may not provide all of their lowest fares to agents.”

So, today’s advice for those in the Managed Travel business is to be ready. Ready for a new wave of traveler intelligencia, armed with yet another tool designed to increase the number of times you will hear that familiar refrain you have come to know and hate “…. But I found a better airfare on the internet!”

And in case you are wondering about my theory on Aniston … I bet she’s a great golfer;)

Entry filed under: Business Travel, Travel Technology. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Audra JB Kruk  |  September 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Tony, You crack me up! thanks. I love that you are exposing this. Last year I had to write an addendum to our contract with our TMC to cap our “split fees” at 2x an agent fee. Just a thought to mention.

  • 2. Tony D  |  September 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Audra, Yes, I figured there was level of service differentiation to deal with something like this, so thanks for validating that.

    And, thanks as well for cracking up. Always good to know that someone is getting my sense of humor :-).



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