A Consolidator is a broker that sells airline net fares to travel agents. But the questions is if the consolidator fares needed? These pre-internet survivors in Travel seem to continue to play and important role in airline distribution but I struggle a bit with the why? I fully understand their importance when we had no internet distribution and the agents with no BSP/ARC were not able to buy directly from the airline.   

Is this still a profitable business for the airline? I fully understand the need to work with Tour Operators and how you can sell in bulk but to just sell fares at a net rate for someone to re-sell, does that still make sense? I don’t know of any LCCs that use Consolidators, maybe it exists in this space too, but I have never heard of it.

Net Rates for ancillary services too?

Also, with the increase of NDC usage will there be offers sold to consolidators or will also the ancillaries be sold at a net level and for the consolidators to mark up these services?  

I often say that most processes are never removed or changed in airline distribution. New concepts are added but old concepts are never discarded, and I really wonder why.  

And I keep coming back to the definition of the travel agent, shouldn’t their focus be on the services they provide. Wouldn’t it make more sense for an airline to sell directly to smaller agencies with no BSP/ARC? I struggle to see the value of just having re-sellers. 

I wish I could be a fly on the wall and get to see the business case behind this. And to understand if there are other benefits? I guess one plus can be control. The contract you have with the consolidator guarantees ethical behaviour and selling at correct level, i.e., no abuse.

Are you, the airlines, in control?

But then again does the airline know that the consolidator creates the bookings and not the agents they resell to, what I mean are you as the airline in control and in the driver’s seat? Are the fares transparent to the end consumer meaning the change and cancellation conditions and is the customer aware of any potential upsell and upgrade?  

It is also interesting and complex from a shopping perspective, how do you ensure that the reselling consolidators fare surfaces on the Metas that control so much of the market. And the relationship between that fare and your own web fare.  

Many still say that it is impossible for some airlines to sell all of their own inventory without the help of consolidators. And maybe this is the case, concepts to offload unsold space has not taken off at a larger scale but is possible today and in production.  

The debate is open

I would love for the debate to open up and to discuss this concept and to better understand the dynamics. I welcome the day when we see better communication of transparent and easily understood offers with more simplicity rather than adding more complexity.