Technology companies that are also GDSs are always forging "partnerships" with travel agencies. The business model is well-known. The agent makes bookings using the GDS and the GDS uses booking volume as the measure of value to negotiate how much suppliers will pay to be on the GDS. In return the agent receives an 'incentive' from the GDS based on the volume of transactions it made.
But a new partnership between Amadeus and online accommodation portal Agoda is different. Amadeus is not offering Agoda content; it's reached a deal to access theirs. The agreement enables it to distribute some of Agoda's content, namely pre-paid hotel content from 150,000 properties globally.
Amadeus TMCs and agents will now be able to view Agoda's content on a single screen alongside other content. They will be able to book its accommodation with other content in a single PNR and at the same price as the OTA's website. In return Agoda gets greater access to the corporate travel market.
One of the obvious aims is to help prevent corporate out-of-policy travel bookings.
But the deal also points out three key business travel market trends for interested observers.
1 Content volume — Every corporate is screaming for content. This is a significant amount of new properties, so buyers will have access to some of the content that might have previously tempted them to book outside the approved corporate channel.
In addition this content is pre-paid which in the past was not mainstream business travel content.
2 Asia — Agoda is a 'global' company but it is based in Asia and although the profile of the content that Amadeus was accessing was not elaborated upon, the clues all point to it being Asian.
The big accommodation news coming out of Asia is that more and more of the large hotel companies are opening properties in the relatively fast-growing markets of India and China, particularly in regional cities which previously were not represented by companies whose brands are well-recognised in North American and Europe.
Asia has traditionally been a market where GDSs have not had a strong volume of appropriate content.
These two points reflects how both travellers' profiles and tastes and corporate profiles are changing.
3 Changing corporate travel profiles — Younger business travellers are increasingly looking for more "authentic" accommodation when they travel. This deal makes the kind of content that travellers would previously seek on other channels available on the GDS. An additional volume of properties of this magnitude suggests that they are not Western chain properties.
Corporates are also increasingly having to organise more business travel for contract staff who because they are not legally employees often do not qualify for corporate cards. This means pre-paid content is more in use in corporate space than it once was.
Business travel destinations are also changing. Actual and projected economic growth in Europe and North America lags that of many Asian economies. The overall proportion of business travel to Asia is growing. More new content in the region should improve compliance
Corporates, is this what's happening with your programme?