Anna Kofoed, Amadeus vice president travel content sourcing, tells Lee Hayhurst why increasingly needs a one-stop shop for product to meet consumer expectations
Growing demands in today’s travel sector for firms to become more responsive to more diverse customer demands is driving up both complexity and fragmentation.
So Amadeus, Europe’s leading Global Distribution System and technology provider, has created a new digital marketplace where suppliers and retailers can ‘meet’ to do business.
The Live Travel Space is Amadeus’s answer to this fragmenting world which it hopes will enable agents to and retailers consolidate and enhance their value to the end consumer.
Kofoed, is Amadeus’s vice president travel content sourcing. She said: “The Live Travel Space is really a space where traveller players come to do business.
“One of the things we are seeing in the industry is a problem of fragmentation. Travellers have more demanding needs which means hotels and airline are starting to differentiate their brands.
“On the one hand it creates more choice, but on the other it means ancillary services and certain fares and available in some channels and not in others. It’s becoming more and more complex.”
The Live Travel Space sets out to solve this problem by providing a digital space in which all products can be made available no matter how they are sourced.
This means traditional GDS airline fares are available alongside fares distributed under the new Iata NDC protocol, as are hotel rooms sourced direct or via aggregators like booking.com.
And it opens up the possibility for a host of other related travel product to be added to the platform like car hire and ground transportation and eventually destination services.
Kofoed said the platform, which was officially launched in the summer, promises a “one stop shop” for agents.
She said it will offer a comprehensive source of content regardless of how the agent operates, whether via traditional offline interfaces, through web services, on mobile or by offering clients self-booking tools.
Amadeus has been working to integrate Low Cost Carriers through new API technology connections and major hotel inventory aggregators.
And Kofoed said Amadeus was starting to talk to major destination services aggregators and an innovation project is looking at how the platform can offer in-resort product for agents to sell.
“This sort of product is usually very, very last minute, often booked the day before travel.
“One of the things we are looking at is chat which the agent could have so that the moment the customer is in destination they can connect and provide them with destination offers.
“This is where we are going and we will have a first prototype in this space soon.”
Kofoed said the Live Travel Space builds on the core Amadeus Travel Platform, which remains the backbone of the firm’s distribution technology stack.
But she said it goes beyond the traditional realm of the GDS and reflects the firm’s move to more open systems and technologies.
“Where the live platform goes beyond the travel platform is in that it’s more about connecting players.
“If you look at things from an agent perspective there are many more places they can go today to source product and also they are wanting to diversify more.
“If they ware wanting to do more of this they have to go to more sources when they should be focusing on the experience for the traveller, which is not very efficient.
“This will make their efficiency better and enable them to create better customer experience for the traveller and to put together unique bundles of product.
“Today we are building more and more content in to the platform. We have pilots running in different parts of the platform.
“We are trying to ensure our customers understand that we have one platform that will provide them with all the content.
“One of the problems with fragmentation is that is does not lead to a very seamless experience for the traveller. That’s one thing we want to solve.
“Where Amadeus adds value is where there is fragmentation and complexity we can pull everything together and make it available on a global scale.”
Beyond the work of connecting diverse sources of content through the live platform, Amadeus sees the next step of turning it into a recommendation engine.
This will see the system automatically suggest personalised bundles of product and prompt the agent to offer these to the client as they plan their trip.
For business travel agents it will align with corporation’s travel programmes to ensure that recommendations are within policy and drive adherence.
“That is the direction in which the platform will be taken, to make it more intelligent,” said Kofoed who added that agents can expect new features to be added quickly.
“One of the reasons we moved to open systems and the cloud is to become much more agile.
“There is the possibility of agents using this recommendation engine today and we have a few customers live with it already, but we are putting much more power behind it.”
Kofoed added: “We are very excited about building this platform. I really believe it will be of benefit to all players in the industry offering true comparison and transparency.
“Agencies want the right content and airlines will truly be able to offer personalisation. It will take time, but it will be a huge benefit to the entire industry.”