Paris - One year after
announcing work had started on the project, KDS last week here at a client
conference formally launched its new-generation self-booking tool. Neo
is based on the concept of booking an entire trip, including transfers and
hotels, by asking travelers just three questions: where their journey will
start, where it will end and what time they need to be there. Live demos showed
the technology delivering fully priced itineraries in just a couple of seconds.
KDS CEO Dean Forbes said Neo is available immediately, on the web and via all
also announced that it partnered with Conferma, a provider of single-use
virtual card numbers, to offer alternative payment methods for transactions
completed in its booking tools, and introduced enhancements to its Maverick unmanaged travel solution.
said Neo is intended to be a managed booking tool that is more attractive than
any consumer alternative so travelers won't be tempted to book through public
websites. Those among the 900 delegates who spoke with Business Travel News said KDS had succeeded in its ambition.
"It's what we have been waiting for," said Société Générale travel
manager Philippe Vanasch, who was involved in Neo's development. "This
will change the way we understand booking tools. The trip is completed within a
few clicks, which makes it much easier for users."
other development clients agreed. "I love it," said
PricewaterhouseCoopers global business services and travel leader Mark Avery.
"It challenges the whole Travel Management 2.0 issue of how do you keep
people within the process, rather than give them the excuse to go outside? With
this product, why would you want to go outside? From the corporate point of
view, it's a big progression."
Dubo, IT project manager for Morpho, a French security products company, said
he also believes Neo will minimize travel bookings through unmanaged channels.
"This is a tool for Gen-Y," he said. "It's really simple—simpler
than consumer sites. Neo will enforce policy without our travelers even
works by synthesizing various publicly available web tools, such as Google
Street View, with a series of internally developed decision-making algorithms.
The algorithms rapidly compute and weigh millions of itinerary options to offer
the most appropriate trip choices.
booker begins by entering a trip starting point (which can include automatic
global positioning system identification of the booker's current location, if
using a GPS-enabled mobile device) and a destination, which immediately is
displayed using Street View. Once the arrival date and time have been entered
(as well as the departure, if there is a return trip), the system within two
seconds displays a timeline indicating each element of the journey, including
the price and duration.
live example showed a trip from a KDS client's office in Rouen, France, to
Times Square in New York. It included a taxi to the Rouen railway station, a
train to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, a flight to Newark, a taxi to Times
Square, another taxi to a hotel for accommodation and all the elements of the
return journey. In this demonstration, Forbes decided he did not like the hotel
offered to him, so he clicked on the hotel element of the timeline, which
instantly displayed other available hotels that comply with his company's
policy. When switching to an alternative, the itinerary and total price
instantly readjusted to reflect the change.
itinerary also is displayed lower on the screen as a provisional expense
report, which can become the actual expense report. Noting a McDonald's
restaurant in Times Square on Google Street View, Forbes decided he wanted to
entertain three clients there and instantly created in the expense report an
allowance of €60 to cover the cost of the meal.
presents to the booker four separate itineraries: cheapest, quickest, greenest—Neo
displays carbon emissions for each leg—and recommended. The latter balances
cost and time, prioritized first by policy rules, then by preferred suppliers
and personal favorites. Weighting for recommended options is set at the company
level, and KDS said the next version will feature more configuration options.
everything about Neo appeared perfect. Some of the estimated ground transfer
times looked wildly optimistic. Also, PwC's Avery said Neo's suggestions for
multi-destination itineraries are not always credible. However, he added that
"more than 80 percent of our trips are point-to-point, and self-booking
tools are not that effective anyway for multi-destination itineraries.
Typically, the results are very credible."
algorithm is built so that it learns," said Forbes. "We won't be
right 100 percent of the time. We have been testing Neo on ourselves. It
suggested Oliver [Quayle, KDS senior vice president for products] fly from his
home to our Paris office via Southampton Airport. It was smart enough to
propose something he hadn't thought about before, and now he is using that
Single-Use Card Payments
Conferma commercial director Shaun Hinds told The Beat that his company will generate 16-digit virtual card
numbers as an alternative to lodge card payments within the KDS booking tool.
Conferma also intends to generate virtual numbers for users of KDS T&E
Flex, the new name for the data collection component of the KDS Maverick
unmanaged travel solution, enabling corporate payment for bookings through
said Conferma is aiming by July 2013 to make available virtual numbers to KDS
users. He added that deals with other corporate booking tool providers are
claimed that one reason for these partnerships is that such large travel
management companies as Carlson Wagonlit Travel are pushing for a single-use
number option in booking tools. TMCs' interest in the technology has grown
since Sabre and Amadeus during the past year became capable of generating
virtual numbers at points of sale.
cards don't work well in the online environment," Hinds added.
cards are the original virtual cards—a card number covering all transactions
made by all of a client's travelers through a nominated TMC. However, Hinds
said many lodge products do not provide a three- or four-digit security code
like those found on a plastic payment card, whereas single-use numbers
simultaneously are generated with an accompanying security number.
said single-use numbers can provide financial reconciliation for rogue bookings
through KDS Flex T&E.
traveler books through a PC on which Flex T&E has been installed, KDS
automatically tracks the reservation even if it is on the Ryanair website, for
example. The intention is for Flex T&E to jump in when the traveler reaches
the payment page and populate a Conferma 16-digit card number, instead of corporate
or personal card details filled in by travelers.
travelers use a personal card, their company won't get the visibility,"
Hinds said. "We are trying to tie back the financial data to the
free-flowing booking environment we now have in 2013."
last month added Royal Bank of Scotland to its list of issuers, which also
includes American Express, AirPlus International, US Bank, Barclaycard and
in a new enhancement of the Maverick system, KDS now can flow bookings from
that tool into its mobile itinerary product, allowing travelers to see their
bookings through unauthorized channels alongside official ones.
This report was compiled from
material originally published in The Beat.