Travel management companies (TMCs) who don't keep up with technological developments could end up out of business, according to GDS bosses.
The TMCs' relationship with technology was high on the agenda at the recent Guild of Travel Management Companies conference in Hong Kong.
In a keynote speech to GTMC members, Travelport's managing director for Europe and Brasil, Olaf Gueldner, said TMCs had to raise their game when dealing with experienced travellers.
While Martin Cowley and Kyle Moore, both senior directors at Sabre, said agencies that kept their heads in the sand when it came to technology faced a bleak future.
The concensus among the GDS, including Amadeus' UK and Ireland boss Tim Russell, was that a number of TMCs were not aware of how advanced technology had become.
Russell said: "I hear people say ‘wouldn't it be good if we had a solution for this' and I tell them that it has existed for some time."
Martin Cowley, Sabre's senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "I don't think it [technology] is an opportunity for TMCs as much as it is a pre-requisite. They need to get on this wagon and adopt this technology.
"It will be a pre-requisite for success and it will give those TMCs who adopt technology a competitive advantage.
"The Internet used to be seen as a threat, but now the majority of our solutions are made through the Internet, and a lot of the TMCs have accepted that as a reality. But now I think it's now time to pick up the pace in that respect."
Gueldner said TMCs, in general, had good solutions at their fingertips, but must raise their game in certain areas.
"First of all I think you have two types of traveller," said the German.
"You have the infrequent traveller who relies heavily on the TMC. They may not even be sure which airlines fly out of which airports.
"But then there is the experienced frequent travellers who may call their TMC and say, ‘I've found a flight on Virgin's website, it leaves and 10am and the tickets costs £700 and I want to sit in the front row on the left'.
"I think it is with this type of traveller the TMC needs to step up and raise its game.
"The have to be able to demonstrate that they can do these things, for example, the mobile booking ability; to be able to send a text when the traveller arrives providing them with a taxi number and a number for a good restaurant close to their hotel."
Cowley added that the relationship between TMCs and their GDSs should be more "collaborative" in the aftermath of the volcanic ash crisis.
"I think we have also seen over the last couple of weeks that as travel intermediaries we are indispensable.
"We have restated the value that we deliver in terms of locating and communicating with passengers, updating itineraries and I think this will provide for a much more collaborative future."