The question of whether GDSs remain a relevant middleman in today’s evolving travel landscape continues to be a hot topic of discussion at ASEAN Tourism Conference during ATF last week, as industry players bring different sides of the argument to the table.
Amadeus maintains that its traditional travel distribution function is still strong despite its diversification strategy into the airport and hospitality technology sectors, said Sebastian Gibergues, Amadeus IT Group’s head of leisure and online travel, global customers.
Gibergues: truth is distribution business is still growing
The travel technology giant acquired Singapore-based airport technology provider UFIS in 2014 and last year rebranded Newmarket International, which it had bought to accelerate expansion in the hotel software space, into Amadeus Hospitality.
Still, Gibergues stressed that these new areas of focus do not imply a decline in its distribution business. “Our strong technology and distribution play makes our company very resilient. The reality is the distribution business is still a growing and healthy (sector).”
This is especially so given the “organic growth the company enjoys from regions like South-east Asia, where people are travelling more than before”, he said.
Moreover, the current state of market fragmentation has only reinforced the need for airlines to “not ignore all the channels they can use to get reach”, added Gibergues.
Agents that TTG Asia spoke with at the conference, including Vivek Khanna, president of Tourcan Vacations, and Suli Purnawarman, consultant at Indonesia’s Astina Tours & Travel, still favour going through GDSs for airline bookings.
On the other hand, Margaret Siah, manager at Singapore’s PIL Travels, which handles leisure and corporate bookings, foresees some challenges ahead of GDSs with direct booking channels offering more inexpensive options.
This is certainly not the case for Gibergues, who is adamant that “bringing costs down, despite what airlines might say, is still the job of the GDS”.