On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking

On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that online travel agency Orbitz showed different and more expensive hotel options to Mac users, who presumably represent a wealthier demographic. “The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information — in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac — to start predicting their tastes and spending habits,” reporter Dana Mattioli wrote in a story that refers to the practice as “predictive analytics.”

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On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking

If you book an airline ticket through an online site or go to a travel agent, you get the ticket price and, thanks to recent U.S. Department of Transportation rulings, that price includes taxes and fees. What you don’t get — at least, not yet — is a price that includes ancillary fees (baggage, early boarding, seat choices), but consumer advocates are working toward that. But the changes in store for ticket booking may be even greater. Booking could be the all-new Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Or not.

The International Air Transport Assn., based in Montreal, is working on what it calls a “new distribution capability” for global distribution systems, which deliver airline ticket prices and schedules, whether you’re a consumer using an online engine or a travel agent doing a search for a client. If your eyes glaze over at that sentence, grab some coffee because the results of this change will be anything but dull.

Under the new model, you’ll see the price of your ticket as well as other things too — a sort of Amazon.com shopping experience — “a lot of new things around merchandising,” said Eric Leopold, director passenger (yes, that’s his title) of the international transport group. The new system “will really show the value of the products so you’re not just selling seats; you’re selling a whole experience to the passenger,” he said, referring to those things that are often covered by ancillary fees such as upgrades.

Leopold likened the experience to supermarket shopping. Some consumers “will buy what is on the bottom [shelf at the] lowest price,” he said. “Some will buy in the middle shelves,” which may cost more but may be a better value.

What IATA calls a “new distribution capability,” however, the American Society of Travel Agents is calling “authenticated shopping,” which means you tell a little about yourself (maybe your frequent-flier number or your ZIP Code) and you are offered products that are tailored for you, such as lounge passes and preferred seating. These bundled, or one-price offerings, may be based on your previous travel habits and purchases (Do you upgrade? Do you spend time in the executive lounge?) or your economic status (Do you live in a ZIP Code that’s “price sensitive”?) or other factors you may not be aware of.

That’s an issue for the national travel agents organization, said Paul Ruden, senior vice president for legal and industry affairs for ASTA. “The concern is with how you do business … in an environment where airlines are able to price discriminate, for example, based on your identity,” he said.

IATA says it isn’t using this proposed system to inflate consumers’ costs by foisting off pricier offerings on certain demographic groups. Ruden, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to try to get price transparency for airline pricing — not only fees and taxes but also ancillary fees — is not so sure.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that online travel agency Orbitz showed different and more expensive hotel options to Mac users, who presumably represent a wealthier demographic. “The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information — in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac — to start predicting their tastes and spending habits,” reporter Dana Mattioli wrote in a story that refers to the practice as “predictive analytics.”

IATA and ASTA will sit down next month to discuss the possible changes, whatever they’re called. ASTA says it’s unclear on some of the mechanics of the process and is worried about the potential damage to its hard-won victories on ticket price transparency. IATA thinks the new system is merely a new way to display other offerings from the airlines in a way that the current systems — which IATA says are outdated — don’t allow.

Courtesy: latimes.com

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Online Shopping becomes vulnerable

Planning tour is always a thought process task. Number of destinations strikes into your mind. You start browsing internet for travel sites which can help you out in shop around the best prices for hotel booking and tickets.

There are horses of travel websites across the world. Some websites come up with great deals or offers. Renowned websites always arouse your curiosity to book your tours by locking their deals.

Recently, many renowned travel websites including Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz and Hotels.com have been accused of fixing the prices with some of the largest hotel companies.

Class-action lawsuit alleged that numbers of such travel websites going hand in hand with hotels including Hilton, Sheraton, Starwood, Marriot and International just to make more profit by fixing the hotel booking prices. These Travel websites make hotel chains promise not to sell rooms below a minimum rate. There is a fixed price which every tour operator offers to traveler. Interestingly, there is no such ‘best prices’ but instead there is only a fixed price.

Online Slate Magazine published a researched article last year based on the method of online marketing to allure the users. The number of E-commerce websites including Amazon and ebay were accused of creating dynamic pages for every user with different prices.

It proves that how E-commerce websites track your cookies to know your buying capacity. They make dynamic pages accordingly and sell the same product tagging higher prices to different online users at the same time but in far away countries. It is very hard to catch them red-handed for such bad online activities.

Recent activity of these travel websites makes us to think that tech-tools are used to hatch conspiracy for making more profit online. That is why, advertisers love the cookies and web-bug tools.

What is ‘Cookies’?

A ‘Cookies’ is a block of text (digital identification tags) which the websites places in a file on a computer hard disk of a person to track his activity. While a code in the cookie file enables the website to label him as a particular user, It does not identify him by name or address unless he has registered himself and provided the sites with such information or set up preferences in his browser to do so automatically.

There is an option for user to block the cookies. Once user block the cookies, there are more chances that user does not enjoy all the features of a website. Interestingly, cookies are sometimes termed as “necessary evil” as they support the features and facilitate the E-Commerce activities; they are the key to the “personalization” of the web.

Once you visit an E-Commerce website and buy a product, cookies record all your activity. Such activities are useful for data analyst to know your likes; dislikes; buying capacity; interests; date of birth; contact number; address and e-mail Id.

Web-bug is one more tool which is adored by advertising companies and data analyst. Web bugs are very helpful in creating strong database of online users. A web bug could be a part of a banner ad on a website that a person is viewing. The embedded instructions in a browser transmit the information to the advertiser’s server, like the Url of the page the person is visiting which it thinks fit to arouse the interest of the viewer on the web. Surprisingly, this is one way exchange of information and it occurs even though the person has not clicked on the banner ad.

Such activities are recorded to make the website user friendly. These activities are supposed to use in good faith as per Cyber Law. This is used rarely in good faith in the time of changing world of technology when humanity is depending on machines and gadgets instead of more physical actions. Unfortunately, very less country has come up with provision where such bad activities are enough to constitute the cyber crime. To avoid online shopping vulnerability you have to take precautions by yourself. Some of the safe browsing tips are below mentioned by cosmic travel hub team.

Safe browsing tips:

  • Don’t save your passwords in your browser.
  • Keep removing your cookies and temporary internet files by the time.
  • Try to shop around the prices physically too, if you get opportunity.
  • Keep changing your password. It sounds very stupid but it will save your important data.
  • Use genuine anti-virus program only.
  • Try to shop around the prices through different ISP which has different IP address.