HAVING CAUGHT ON EFFORTLESSLY. ALREADY LEADING IN SEVERAL SEGMENTS WITHIN TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY, THE COMPANY HAS TRANSFORMED FROM A TRADITIONAL SINGLE-LINE GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM TO A FULLY-FLEDGED TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORM, PROVIDING ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES TO INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS.
Over 150 travel industry experts and thought leaders representing airlines, hotels and travel agencies from across the Middle East gathered for Travelport’s e-Volve summit, in Istanbul.
With a clear aim of addressing how technology is redefining and shaping the region’s increasingly competitive USD72 billion travel industry, the two-day event provided a much needed platform for associated stakeholders to discuss and share invaluable insight.
Upon an introductory speech by Gordon Wilson, president, Travelport, illustrating the company’s leading areas of airline branding and merchandising, hotel distribution, mobile commerce and business-to-bisiness online payment solution, a host of spokespeople took the stage to elaborate on their designated areas of expertise, including the company’s heads of department as well as keynote speakers and industry leaders.
“Technology is changing the world,” pointed out Matt Minetola, chief information officer, Travelport, who went on to emphasise how the company is heavily investing in its software development to enable clients to differentiate their brand, image, product and overall offering, with an end-to-end service on their platform.
eNett International, as a global expert of dedicated payment solutions for the industry, is a recent and fully integrated partner of Travelport which is driving security, efficiency and value for travel providers.
“Travelport has provided fantastic industry expertise on a global level [...], they certainly bring a domain expertise to our business which is phenomenal,” commented, Anthony Hynes, CEO, eNett International, whose revenues grew 49 percent in 2014.
With over 650,000 unique properties fully bookable on its platform, Travelport is the fourth largest hotel distributor in the world, having sold 63 million room nights in 2014.
Niklas Andréen, senior vice president, hospitality commerce, Travelport, shed light on the current stance of online hotel bookings, loyalty programmes and ancillary investment opportunities, in turn highlighting how the company can assist travel agents to boost sales through a breadth of choice, easily accessible information pertaining to hotels, as well as through its Hotelzon and Smartpoint solutions.
Glenville Morris, head of consulting, Mobile Travel Technologies (MTT), posited that travel in the region is fundamentally evolving into being more mobile-centric. He continued by sharing his insight into what Middle Eastern travellers expect from airlines’ mobile applications.
With the recent acquisi“ tion of MTT by Travelport, the mobile technology company already has an impressive list of clients under its belt, including Singapore Airlines, easyJet, Jumeirah and Saudia.
Alison Bell, senior director, MTT, noted, “We have been very committed to the Middle East for a very long time [...] Being here [at Travelport e-Volve summit] is just a very good opportunity for us to meet a broader range of customers and for us to be able to share some of the trends and some of the information we feel we have access to [...].”
Matthew Powell, senior director, India, and agency commerce solutions, Africa, Middle East and South Asia, Travelport, categorically defined and emphasised that in this day and age, customers seek next generation travel agents who have evolved and kept up with technology in order to cater to all client needs.
As travellers are becoming more demanding, as they have easier access to information, Powell emphasised how Travelport enables agents to stay ahead of the game, especially through the Smartpoint solution which aggregates all information in a single workflow, ensuring efficiency.
Another key driving segment for Travelport, airline merchandising is taking strides within travel technology through its innovative merchandising suite, incorporating its latest project, Rich Content & Branding, which provides carriers personalised and broad selling capabilities.
With Etihad Airways, Middle East Airlines and Gulf Air already signed up for the tool, the company is prioritising itself to garner a larger share of the regional players.
Will Owen Hughes, senior director, air commerce, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, enthused, “More carriers in the region are signing up to the project. It has been a real success.”
A live panel discussion amongst airline partners, as well as guest speakers, including rocket scientist Siya Xuza, Abdul Wahab Teffaha, secretary general, Arab Air Carriers Organization, who brought regional updates, and Trevor McFarlane, founder, Emerging Markets Intelligence & Research, who offered an overall business outlook for the Middle East and gradually built-up to the context of the tourism industry, all provided a complementary approach to the topics discussed.
The summit, now its second year, is fast establishing itself as an essential event for industry leaders in the Middle East.
Rabih Saab, president, Africa, Middle East and South Africa, Travelport, commented, “Given the ever-changing and rapid paced environment of the travel industry, it is paramount for those part of it to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to how technology is redefining the industry.”