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Hi all,

SAP has been offering its fully integrated online booking connecting to GDS for quite a while now, being originally one of the first Online Booking Engines (OBEs) in the market ever.

Unfortunately, this solution is already in maintenance mode and will not be continued after end of mantenance.

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this part only valid for Germany. Maybe different in other markets, or to come later there.

Additionally, we have the situation – at least in Germany – that there are some rumors about discontinuing the existing eBridge access to GDS by one of the leading providers at the end of the year. Customers say they have received a notice of termination for eBridge service, forcing them to think on alternative solutions.

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For that reason, I want to give you a little overview of available solutions known as working.

Travel market has always been dynamic, and it continues being so. You may have noticed that SAP has acquired Concur, which is bundled with an own OBE. Amadeus has acquired i:FAO, offering the Cytric OBE. So concentration is already in place, which might continue, ending up maybe in some other products leaving market.

But this is not my part to comment. I simply want to show you some options. This is not a recommendation for one or the other tool. You have to discuss this with your customer from functional view.

Let’s have a look at SAP On Premise, which is offering the integrated GDS connection to Amadeus and Sabre, but also web services to connect to OBEs.To implement OBE, TMC or manufacturer will help. They will also help in telling you the functions, which are restricted for all OBEs by GDS capabilities.

Here we have:

– Amadeus eTravel Management (AeTM): known as a good product for global use. AeTM is supported by SAP standard and can be implemented with some adjustments and BADIs.

– GetThere: same applies as for AeTM

– i:FAO cytric: a very popular OBE in Germany and Europe due to its flexible framework for multi-GDS and vendor direct access connection. This one also has a nice travel request control, deciding whether you have to do an online booking or an offline request to agency. Not supported by SAP standard, but connected in many customer projects for large and mid-size companies unsing web services and some middleware. Integration package offered by consulting partner for +/- 20K (EUR).

– KDS: french solution. I tried to connect them to SAP Expenses several times, which was always rejected by their organization who did not want to support this. Attitude may have changed in the meantime, so it’s worth asking for, as I somehow like the OBE. I know one large customer who has integration to SAP up and running, so it is possible.

– Onesto: german solution. Integration possible as individual solution.

– Traveldoo: not that common, but a good product. Integration possible with web services as individual solution.

Generally, you can connect any OBE if

– they have a suitable interface, ideally based on web services

– provider is willing to support this also from maintenance perspective. You need a support channel, access to their dev landscape, early information on upcoming changes, …

– YOU are able to offer maintenance and support during operation. Implementing is not the issue – but, remember: travel market is dynamic. Any airline introducing a new pricing model may crash your setup.

Don’t hesitate to contact me for any questions regarding fully integrated travel management.

Regards, Michael

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6 Comments

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  1. E- Travel

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this overview of possible alternatives 🙂

    I implemented in the past SAP Travel Booking and I must admit that it looks more complicate / less flexible than others solutions.

    We (the large company you mentioned ?) have now switch to KDS since almost 10 years 😯 and it works fine. We have interfaced SAP Travel Expenses with specific development. Booking data are provided by a German company (NP4) who has access to GDS (Amadeus in our case).

    It works well since a long time now 🙂

    I will be happy to share my experience here to those who need to interface KDS and SAP TM 😉

    Cheers

    Christophe.

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  2. Lukas Weigelt

    Hi Michael,

    thanks for sharing your experience and your view on the on-prem alternatives and putting them into this compact overview. It’s a useful supplement to Sven’s Posts about the onDemand track (Concur etc.).

    Cheers, Lukas

    P.S. Avoid provider-dedicated solutions implemented with FI-TV-PL (this excludes all-in-one stuff like Amadeus, etc.) or you will walk through the valley of tears –>  Rant: Use at your own risk: FI-TV-PL-BIB / FI-TV-PL-HRS

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    1. Michael Zwickl Post author

      Hi Lukas,

      there is nothing to say against provider-dedicated solutions – but you need to do it in the right way. And, yes, I share your opinion that PL-BIB and PL-HRS are not the most recommendable solution. I have stopped promoting this solution many years ago, as well as SAP GDS access.

      There are several reasons for failure, no matter which of the solutions is used:

      – lack of standard: the industry standard OTA has never really come to live. So neither travel modules (of any provider) or booking modules or direct links have a common standard

      – unusual technology: web based booking modules have web service interfaces. Why should I use PI, being a source of error, if I have clean and well documented XML interfaces?

      – lack of responibility: any interface fails if no one is responsible – on both sides of it. If you use custom interface, provider must support you, providing access to support channels, test environment and additional information on upcoming releases. Especially with PL-BIB, this has been creating issues again and again just because the guys decided to change properties or add new fields with an upfront information two weeks before delivering it. Bound to fail.

      – lack of maintenance: travel industry is very dynamic. If a static organization tries to handle it, this is at least critical. Ideally, interface support is provided by a well-informed and quick team. Imagin an airline providing a new pricing model next week, requiring additional fields in an interface…

      I still believe that you can connect any travel service with a suitable framework, as offered e.g. by Conovum – be it full OBE or direct HRS or any product. I have seen so many projects where this has been working successfully – with 4 different OBEs and various direct connects. For a new system landscape, my favorite is still Cytric with its many flexible GDS and Direct Access connections and a smooth integration.


      And, by the way: There are systems up and running connecting Concur + Cytric, and Concur + AeTM. It IS possible, but at the moment, it is custom solutions as well.

      The next thing I believe is that there will not be that many new installations of FI-TV at least in Europe, but that’s a different story.

      happy weekend, Michael

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      1. Lukas Weigelt

        Hi Michael,

        there is nothing to say against provider-dedicated solutions – but you need to do it in the right way.


        If you put it that way, yes, I agree. However, if you put it in context with the ‘standard’ Implementations of FI-TV-PL-BIB and FI-TV-PL-HRS via PI/PO, then I strongly disagree for the reasons I outlined in my rant.


        I completely agree on everything else you wrote, especially the part about new installations of FI-TV. However, I believe for those who already have a running highly adjusted/customized on-prem FI-TV solution will not strive to go for a third party solution, not even in a “distant future”, especially not if it has something to do with “the cloud”. Especially in Germany for everything that is slightly connected with the Public Sector, anything that could remotly mean that master data leaves the physical  “control” of the company is a kill criteria due to the current BDSG.


        Happy weekend to you too!


        Cheers, Lukas

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        1. Michael Zwickl Post author

          Hi Lukas,

          don’t get me wrong – I fully agree on your opinion on PL-BIB and PL-HRS. The question to me has always been why other solutions of comparative complexity work fine, but these two not.

          Oh, and by the way: your data are already in the cloud – for almost 50 years now. They call it GDS….

          Has someone ever tried to apply BDSG (german law on data protection) on GDS and its worldwide access options? Could be a funny mission, ending up in traveling by horse again to avoid data being passed on to external systems.

          see you

          Michael

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  3. Mohammed Khan

    HI Michael

    Many Thanks for your Insight

    I was looking for some info on Cytric , which I am hoping you could kindly help

    Basically I am wanting to know the comparison between Cytric OBT and Concur , do you have some kind of Info on this ?

    Also what products as discussed is not available if we have TravelPort as a GDS, Cytric is not fully agnostic

    Thanks in advance , and much appreciated

     

    Regards

    Mohammed

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