Over 230 agents at­tend Trav­el­port MESA

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 tw

TravTalk - Middle East - - TECHNOLOGY - SHEHARA RIZLY

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nik­las An­dreen Vice Pres­i­dent and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor for Global hos­pi­tal­ity and dig­i­tal, Trav­el­port

Ed­ward Chan­dler Chief Com­mer­cial and Part­ner­ships Of­fi­cer, eNett In­ter­na­tional

Matthew Pow­ell Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor-Mid­dle East and South Asia, Trav­el­port

Rabih Saab Pres­i­dent and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor – EMEA and South Asia, Trav­el­port

Kathryn Walling­ton Coun­try Man­ager UAE Trav­el­port

Ja­son Nash Chief Story Teller Trav­el­port

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