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Antoine Medawar Antoine Medawar

Q&A with Antoine Medawar, Vice President, Amadeus MENA

ANTOINE MEDAWAR, VICE PRESIDENT, AMADEUS, MENA, REVEALS HOW THE COMPANY STAYS AT THE TOP OF THE GAME IN THE EVER-EVOLVING WORLD OF GDS AND AMID INCREASINGLY TECH-SAVVY CONSUMER AND AIRLINE INDUSTRY DEMANDS AS BRICK-AND-MORTAR OPTIONS MAKE WAY FOR E-COMMERCE.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How was 2017 in terms of business and how does 2018 look so far? Can you share some statistics with us?

ANTOINE MEDAWAR: The year 2017 was positive one for Amadeus as we maintained growth in the first three quarters of the year and all of our businesses performed well. Within the region, we had important developments in our client relationships as we signed and renewed significant deals with leading industry players such as Al Tayyar Travel Group, FlyDubai, MEA Airlines among others.

Additionally, we had the pleasure to host over 100 regional experts at our Amadeus Fly by Digital Summit in Dubai, UAE, to discuss improvements to the travel experience in what is one of the world’s fastest growing tourism and passenger hubs.

Given the steady progression of our MENA businesses and the wider confidence in the region’s travel industry, we looked forward to ending 2017 strong with optimism heading into 2018.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How has GDS technology transformed the travel industry during the last 10 years?

ANTOINE MEDAWAR: Simply put, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) have helped in enhancing the efficiency and quality of today’s travel experience.

In the past, consumers would purchase flights largely through brick-and-mortar travel agents who liaised directly with the airline companies via call centers or airline ticketing offices. Following the creation of GDS technologies, travel agents have increasingly used one or more of the GDSs to aggregate information from airlines and large hotel chains across the world.

More recently, the rise of e-commerce behaviours has led to online travel agents (OTAs) and to the creation of metasearch companies that specialise in traffic acquisition through comparing prices across the internet without offering booking services. Again, GDS technology plays an important role in that ecosystem.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Which are the latest trends regarding the global distribution model and how does the company make sure to follow those?

ANTOINE MEDAWAR: As the industry grows it’s a natural consequence that there are new requirements from our customers and travellers. We aim to serve them both.

Travellers today are looking for consistency, transparency and choice, and Amadeus strongly believes that indirect distribution remains the most cost-efficient solution for all parties to achieve that aim on a global scale.

As is the case with any industry, travel is evolving and customer needs change. Amadeus is also evolving. We consider ourselves as a partner to both our airline and our travel agency customers and we will always aim to meet their strategic business needs and help them achieve their objectives whatever their strategy.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Which are the biggest challenges for GDS- especially considering the rapid advancement of both technology and travel industries -and what should GDS providers do in order to maintain their market positions, remaining relevant and meeting their customers’ needs?

ANTOINE MEDAWAR: The industry will face pressures from both ends of the distribution chain. First, the relative consolidation of airlines provides negotiating power with intermediaries in the value chain. Second, the rapidly evolving expectations of the consumer – increasingly digitally-savvy with new online purchasing opportunities – continues to shape the distribution industry. Competitive pressures within the industry will also play a major role as well as a growing need for personalisation.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What does the future hold for GDS? Can you share with us some of your future plans, including new products, new collaborations etc?

ANTOINE MEDAWAR: The creation of the GDS was to be able to, with a single infrastructure, serve multiple airlines and therefore bring a cost advantage and a cost efficiency to the industry. This approach will continue well into the future as GDS brings tremendous benefits to travellers and travel agencies by providing easy comparisons and an environment that is tailored to the consumer to make their choices. When it comes to bookings, Amadeus also augments our GDS offerings with travel technology services like airline information technology products, travel agent interfaces for connecting to their GDS network, and revenue management tools for hotels and airlines to help price and merchandise their products.

Moreover, we are a company that invests in anticipating the future of travel technology.