Taylor Swift: Can online travel learn from her haggling skill?News / DistributionBy Viewpoints | July 22, 2015Share This article was originally published on Everyone and anyone who supports fairness in internet commerce should take note of a new hero – or more appropriately a new heroine – and her name is Taylor Swift.NB This is a guest article by Daniel A. Nelson, CEO of Partner FusionRecently, pop music star Taylor Swift sent an open letter to Apple that said: “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”Share this quote Her letter was in reaction to an Apple announcement that the technology giant was going to give away its new music streaming service, during a trial period, as a means of attracting new customers.The problem with Apple’s decision to give away its new service, however, was that it expected artists such as Ms. Swift to provide her music for free while Apple pocketed all the gains of locking up new customers.When Ms. Swift cried foul, Apple backed down and agreed it wasn’t fair for it to deny compensation to the artists who provided the content for its service.Unfortunately, Apple’s attempt to shortchange the people who deliver customers into its profitable services is not an isolated incident.Recently, a major U.S. airline announced that it was pulling its route and fare information from several online travel sites – the very same sites that have been have helped the airlines book millions of customers through online travel bookings.That news was followed by a major European airline saying it would charge travelers an extra €16 per ticket if they did not book their travel on the airline’s website – knowing full well that many travelers rely on third party travel sites to shop and compare routes, fares and other information.By withdrawing from online marketplaces or penalizing travelers who use them, these carriers are attempting to roll back or eliminate the consumer’s ability to shop and compare all of their travel options – while also attempting to withhold payments from the very same e-commerce travel sites that provide the information that feed online bookings.And, it’s not just the airlines.Some big hotel chains are also trying to cut off the online travel sites that provide consumers with a comprehensive posting of available hotel room rates and availability.Today, any individual with a computer, tablet or smartphone can search and compare the amenities, prices and availability of virtually every available form of transportation and lodging in the world.Consumers can now choose to use the search capability of an online travel agent (OTA), destination travel sites, the branded websites of airlines and hotels, the travel agents of any one of a dozen membership organizations such as Costco, American Express and AARP and many many more.All e-commerce companies know that it takes innovation, investment and considerable marketing skills to reach and capture customers. OTAs such as Expedia and Priceline invest heavily in technology to present enormous amounts of information to customers to assist their booking decisions, and spend massively on advertising and marketing to attract these customers.And these are not one-time expenses. To succeed in this highly competitive space requires perpetual innovation in response to changes in consumer preferences and online shopping habits.The big hotel companies fully understand the value that third parties provide to capture the attention, loyalty and patronage of travelers, but they are increasingly looking for ways to avoid paying for these services despite having voluntarily entered contracts with the said OTAs.Thanks to Taylor Swift, Apple quickly determined that its attempt to market its music service without paying the artists and musicians who were driving traffic to their site was unfair and indefensible in the court of public opinion.It’s time the lodging and airline industries followed suit. NB This is a guest article by Daniel A. Nelson, CEO at Partner FusionNB2Taylor Swift image by Shutterstock.