Business Travel Tech Talk London, 16 October,
Business Travel Awards Europe, 30 October, JW
3rd Annual Business Travel Intelligence Summit
TRAVELPORT CEO Gordon Wilson says there is a positive outcome from the ongoing row between American Airlines and the GDSs over distribution fees – a debate about the “escalating level of rebates to agents”.
He said both the agencies and GDSs offered “huge value” to the airlines, but cited the 20 per cent increase in agency rebates over the last two years as cause for concern.
“We should become a bit more responsible collectively as an industry about the rates to agencies,” he said. “If they get too out of hand then whole edifice will fall apart. It’s a finely balanced ecosystem, and keeping the balance is incumbent on all three parties in the equation.”
Wilson was speaking as Travelport showcased its latest products to journalists from around the world, at its global data centre in Atlanta.
Among the products on display was the Universal Desktop, which aggregates GDS and non-GDS content – including low-cost airlines, rail, independent hotels and ancillaries – so that all elements of a trip can be booked on one platform. It also offers travel management benefits such as incorporating policies and traveller profiles, and creating a “super PNR” of all itinerary components. It can automatically generate customer itinerary emails with consumer-style images and links. The desktop was trialled by Australian-based agency Flight Centre in 1,000 stores for six months, and is being rolled out to other customers this year.
Travelport also demonstrated its Smartpoint application, which it sees as a “stepping stone” towards agency uptake of the Universal Desktop. For TMCs with diversely experienced staff, the application combines point-and-click operation with encryptions that allow agents to choose to book using traditional GDS commands – such as those of Galileo or rival GDSs – while viewing graphical overviews, interfaces and links on the same screen.
The technology firm’s Rooms and More product aggregates content from a total of 27 providers, including the likes of Expedia and bookings.com, making thousands more non-GDS hotels available to Travelport customers. Wilson said that when all contracts with providers are completed, the service will have more than two million hotel offers.