New ways of connecting

AMADEUS

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David Brett
President
Amadeus Asia Pacific

A web-based GDS on the way

Next-gen products We have a number of exciting announcements planned this year, including developments in mobile technology. With 2.6 billion out of 5.3 billion global mobile users based in Asia-Pacific, we recognise mobile’s increasing significance to the travel industry.

We will also evolve our existing product portfolio, including the Amadeus Selling Platform. We plan to revolutionise the travel booking space by introducing a new solution based on feedback from travel agencies. It will be the only GDS booking platform that is completely web-based, providing access anytime and anywhere to global, regional and local content.

USP Technology is our competitive edge, as we have ongoing investment in innovation. We also have a unique product portfolio, and will continue to update it to ensure maximum productivity for travel professionals. Recently, we added Amadeus Offers, a time-saving solution that helps travel consultants in the management of pre-booking activities, quote handling, proposing alternatives, and making and cancelling provisional bookings.

Content Amadeus will continue to grow existing content across both air and non-air platforms. Today, we have 420 airlines and over 110,000 hotel properties bookable through our system. The LCC segment, in particular, is an area of growth for the company. We have 70 bookable LCCs.

Pricing Our Asia-Pacific customer base is highly diverse, hence our pricing model varies depending on the solution and market. We often offer solutions free of charge for a limited period of time and offer deals with other solutions. An example is Amadeus Printmytrip, which was rolled out across Asia-Pacific in July 2011 and offered free to interested travel agencies for the first three months.

Challenges facing travel consultants Ease of booking, reliability, cost efficiency and content aggregation are top concerns. We are becoming more of a consultant to help and advise our customers on how to get the best out of technology. Travel consultants are also facing an evolving customer psyche with rising expectations and demands for improved service.

Relevance GDSs continue to be the best and most proven means of distribution between airlines and travel consultants to travellers. They provide content to the benefit of travel consultants in terms of cost, efficiency and reliability; they also represent the best value and most efficient means for airlines to distribute their tickets to the largest possible market.

“We plan to revolutionise the travel booking space by introducing a new solution that is flexible, easy-to-use and time-saving.”  

 

TRAVELPORT

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Simon Nowroz
President and managing director, Asia-Pacific
Travelport

New desktop goes beyond GDS

Next-gen products Our investment in technology over the last few years has come to fruition with three new flagship products. Travelport Smartpoint App, an add-on application for the Galileo Desktop, introduces a graphical look and feel, as well as point-and-click functionality. It also has in-built translation capabilities.

Travelport Universal Desktop (TUD), which has been rolled out to beta customers globally, is a next-generation desktop that offers an intuitive interface that pulls content and pricing from multiple sources beyond the GDS and allows for sale of airline ancillary products.

The Travelport Rooms and More hotel booking engine utilises meta-search technology to aggregate content from global leading accommodation suppliers. More than 675,000 accommodation options are on offer, allowing travel consultants to take advantage of the rapidly growing hotel sector.

USP TUD represents a quantum leap forward in the travel distribution space. It is not a re-skinned version of our existing desktop application, but an entirely new, integrated platform. The next phase of development will see the launch of the Software Developer Kit that allows independent software developers to plug in their own content and apps into TUD, further enriching available content.

Content Non-air continues to represent a strong opportunity for growth and we remain focused on this space, particularly in hospitality. We have seen a strong take-up of Travelport Rooms and More, now available to all travel consultants in 68 countries. Less than a year old, the portal has undergone significant development and growth, and will continue to do so throughout 2012.

Pricing The fee for Travelport Agility (a package that includes products such as Smartpoint App and Rooms and More) is nominal, and varies from country to country. The introduction of a single fee for Travelport Agility also enables a consistent pricing approach globally.

Challenges facing travel consultants Rise of the Internet, growth in social media and surge in smartphone usage amid unsteady economic conditions. As travellers become savvier, travel consultants need to step up their game in attracting and retaining customers.

Relevance The role of the GDS has evolved and it is no longer just a content pipe between A and B, but an integrated marketing, retailing and distribution platform, providing new ways to sell a wider range of content.

“It is not a re-skinned version of our existing desktop application, but a new, integrated platform that will improve selling and streamline work processes.”

 

ABACUS

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Robert Bailey
President and CEO
Abacus International

GDS in a mobile phone

Next-gen products We have introduced Abacus Mobile, a web-based point-of-sale solution allowing travel consultants to offer professional service on the go. It runs on multiple smartphone operating systems including iPhone, RIM, Symbian and Android.

Late last year, we also unveiled WorkSpace, our next-generation point-of-sale tool which features a graphical interface. Travel consultants can track booking and customer data seamlessly, optimising operational efficiency.

In the second half of this year, we will release TripPlan, an online travel management tool to help companies improve compliance to travel policies, define travel privileges, map out approval workflows and identify preferred suppliers.

Abacus WebStart (an online booking engine specifically built for agencies to get their brands online) has also been enabled for mobile.

USP We have just launched Abacus PowerSuite, a full-service financial solution that offers complete front-, mid- and back-office functions. This suite encompasses a range of new features, including a tour management module that allows consultants to design bespoke FIT and group tour itineraries and packages. It has complete integration with Abacus WorkSpace.

Content We will focus on both air and non-air components. The former generates 95 per cent of our business, but non-air opportunities have yet to be fully capitalised. Looking forward, we hope to implement additional services and add value to our non-air business and help travel professionals to up their productivity, utilising our suite of up-to-date tools when it comes to packaging products or at the point of sale.

Pricing GDSs do charge for some new solutions, depending on the value an offering delivers to a travel firm. However, Abacus is sticking to a generic pricing model for now.

Challenges facing travel consultants The top three are continued pressure on margins, reduced settlement windows and fragmentation of content. They point to an urgent need for companies to invest in technology and evolve current business and service models to remain relevant in an online world.

Relevance We offer start-to-end solutions and we have an inherent understanding of the Asia-Pacific travel distribution market. We cover all areas of the travel distribution arena – be it online or offline – and now we’re utilising mobile technology to service travel consultants and consumers better.

“We have rolled out solutions leveraging on the Internet and mobile technology to help reduce costs while increasing revenue opportunities.”

 

SABRE

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Hans Belle
Vice president and general manager
Sabre Travel Network, Asia-Pacific

The power of apps

Next-gen products The newly launched Sabre Red App Centre is the world’s first B2B application store for the travel industry, connecting travel buyers with third-party developers. Sabre-connected travel consultants can incorporate Red Apps into their workspace, leveraging the plug-in capabilities of the Eclipse Rich Client platform, upon which the Sabre Red Workspace point-of-sale system is built. (Abacus, partly owned by Sabre, has taken Sabre’s underlying infrastructure and released the Abacus WorkSpace, which also has access to the app store.)

Sabre is also developing the first global reservation system for booking public and corporate-owned HD video conferencing and telepresence rooms, namely Sabre Virtual Meetings. When integrated into travel applications such as online booking tools or agency systems, travel buyers will be able to reserve and schedule video conferences at the same time they book flights and hotels. This will be integrated into Sabre Red for travel consultants and GetThere for corporations later this year.

In addition, Sabre is combining key capabilities from its suite of mobile services into TripCase to offer a complete web, mobile and email product to travellers. The enhanced TripCase will deliver documents, expense reporting, agency messaging, navigational capabilities, in-policy bookings and traveller extras. TripCase becomes a single platform where travellers can access shopping, booking and travel management services, and through which consultants can continue to provide their services to travellers. This allows agencies to value-add services prior to and during the trip when travellers most need it, such as offering upgrades and destination services just before a trip rather than at the time of booking.

USP Innovative solutions such as the Sabre Red App Centre, Sabre Virtual Meetings, TripCase and Sabre Red Workspace are clear examples of our commitment.

Content Comprehensive content is critical, so we are always looking for opportunities to increase our content from travel suppliers. Currently, the Sabre GDS connects 350,000 travel consultants to more than 400 airlines, 100,000 hotels, 25 car rental brands, 50 rail providers, 13 cruise lines and other global travel suppliers.

Pricing
We won’t comment on our competitor’s pricing or speculate on future pricing strategies.

Challenges facing travel consultants The threat to the current transparent travel marketplace and the inability of travel professionals and consumers to quickly and easily compare airfares, including ancillary fees. Sabre has long been a strong advocate for a transparent travel marketplace.

Relevance Asia-Pacific operates with highly successful regional GDSs such as Abacus that provide Asia-specific applications, features, functions and content.

“(The Red App Centre) will spur a whole new level of innovation, benefiting Sabre-connected agencies around the world.”

This article was first published in TTG Asia, April 20 issue, on page 12. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.

Additional reporting from Mimi Hudoyo and Linda Haden

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