Travelport hosted over 230 customers from 14 countries to a special conference to provide an insight into the emerging new trends, future of the sector with Artificial Intelligence and the various trends that shape the travel industry, over a period of two days at Shangri-La Oman.
Rabih Saab, President and Managing Director – EMEA and South Asia, Travelport
The event is a gathering of industry stakeholders, airlines, travel agency customers, Travelport distributors in various markets and some Travelport staff discussing the trends in travel industry and beyond. As an industry we can take stock of these changes and opportunities and see how Travelport can support both airline and agency customers to drive growth in their own business. We chose Oman as it is well served, the facilities are wonderful and the properties are good with a nice environment. We’ve invested almost a billion dollars in our products and technology. We have rebranded ourselves not as a GDS but as a travel commerce platform and all that is giving airlines and other travel content and their brand the way they want to sell it. So it’s a great opportunity for the consumer to see what we are going to do.
Kathryn Wallington, Country Manager UAE, Travelport
So many people were involved to pull this event together and have taken a couple of months to get it to this stage. The concept was to show our customers how we’ve transformed the travel industry and how we have moved and invested in our technology. We had 230 customers at our event from 14 countries and they were our key customers. We also had airlines and suppliers. The key highlights of the event include discussions on how far we have come in terms of our technology and where we are today and how we can support the business and travel industry to help them grow and build their business. We have sales teams in all the countries so we will be following up with them and we also hope to run this again next year as an annual event. They got a lot from it and enjoyed it.
Matthew Powell Managing Director-Middle East and South Asia, Travelport
We are focusing on mobile strategy, digital and how we give our customers more content and choice and how we provide efficiencies to the travel industry. For us it will be a real focus in 2018 on how we help the Middle East and South Asia region to utilise these new tools to their benefit. We see ourselves as a travel commerce platform and we moved away from our old-fashioned GDS model. Our key focus is on listening to what customers are asking for and allowing them to give their customers the content and services they require. Travellers who need more information need to have more content and data. We are looking at Artificial Intelligence how it can make life easier for agents. We are planning machine learning so we can give our customers faster more accurate responses.
Jason Nash, Chief Story Teller, Travelport
We spoke about the power of the platform and Travelport’s new messaging that we’ve been putting to the market. Travelport is now able to touch all of the customer life cycle through pre-trip travelling and post-trip evaluation. We are really focusing on maximising returns on every trip that is booked through the Travelport platform, so traditionally, if agents booked through us there is so much more they can make money on. The role we play with travel agents is changing. We used to be the source of content for air bookings primarily and I think what we have started to get travel agents to understand is that in this world where customers are increasingly connected to their smartphones.
Edward Chandler, Chief Commercial and Partnerships Officer, eNett International
E-nett is a B2B payment company and we focus on the travel industry. We provide our customers with a virtual master card that they can use to pay their suppliers like airlines, hotels, car rental. We’re working hard to extend our presence into some local markets where it might be slightly difficult to get local paying accounts or to work with local entity because of regulation or the banking structure or the infrastructure. We’ve been in the Middle East and Africa for five years and we have a number of customers in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The biggest challenge applies to this region and some other regions like South America. We work to provide the majority of our banking structure, banking operations.
Niklas Andreen, Vice President and Managing Director for Global hospitality and digital, Travelport
Our hospitality business is divided into three parts. We work with supplying travel agencies with hotel content they need globally, so we have around 50,000 properties and we help travel agencies back about 65 million rooms a year. Our car rental business helps travel agencies book cars and we do 95 million car rentals a year. We also work with travel agencies to provide ground transportation to and from the airport. We’ve aggravated content and made a simple and seamless way to book that on behalf of your travellers. The ground transportation space is worth almost $65 billion. We’re making that content available on mobile devices or on website. We have transformed from GDS to a platform where travel agencies are able to engage with their travellers not just at their bookings but also throughout their journey.