a new round of consolidation among travel management companies, vice president
for marketing and distribution Ian Wheeler said on Wednesday in a wide-ranging
briefing at the travel technology company's data processing center in Erding,
colleague Denis Lacroix, vice president for product development, also predicted
a renewed public battle with airlines over global distribution system fees in
the United States and that self-booking tools would evolve to be much more
intuitive in understanding and making booking suggestions for travelers' needs.
Amadeus booking figures, broken down by travel agency segment, TMC transactions
fell 15 percent in 2009, yet bookings through online travel agencies grew 13
percent. "There has been a continuing shift to online agencies, and we don't
expect to see that shifting back," said Wheeler. "There has not been
much consolidation among TMCs over the past couple of years, but with the drive
to online and airline consolidation, we can see there will be further
consolidation in the next three to five years."
that the increased price of financing since the credit crunch has slowed the
pace of mergers and acquisitions, but this brake on change is starting to be
have lost marketshare, Amadeus believes there has been a halt to the general
shift from bookings through travel agents to bookings directly with airlines. "We
think it has stopped and maybe even reversed," Wheeler said. "It is
not in the airlines' interest to put too much business through their direct
channels." Part of the reason for the perceived reversal is the growth of
long-haul travel, for which travelers are more likely to need the intervention
and advice of an intermediary.
estimates shown by Amadeus at the briefing indicate total bookings through all
GDSs annually grew 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010, almost identical
to Q1. Growth was significantly slower in Western Europe and North America.
Amadeus estimates its U.S. marketshare to be 8 percent, compared with a global
share of 37 percent.
that Amadeus recently completed five-year deals with all airline customers
outside the United States. He predicted "a very public debate"
between airlines and GDSs inside the United States, and claimed negotiations
would be tougher for Sabre and Travelport, partly because their marketshare is
much larger, but also because their venture capitalist owners will be looking
for an exit. Amadeus refloated as a public company earlier this year.
that recent steps by American Airlines to offer packages of unbundled services
exclusively through direct channels—making them unbookable via GDSs—look very
much like an early salvo for the next round of GDS negotiations. "You have
to consider that is a possibility," he said. "If you want to maximize
revenue, you have to make your services available to as many points of
distribution as possible. Only American is going down this path, and you will
have to ask them why they are putting so much publicity behind the direct
Amadeus has been looking to its own future by continuing to reduce its reliance
on the mainframe computers with which it launched its business in 1988. Lacroix
said that the mainframe programming language TPF is now used for around half
the company's airline transactions, principally to handle core passenger name
record processes. All non-air transactions are handled in modern programming
languages. "TPF will be completely gone in two to three years," he
At the other
end of the evolutionary scale, Lacroix said the current high level of
competition between browser providers would drive improvements in self-booking
tools. He expects the developing technology to improve navigation flow,
allowing travelers to make reservations on a single page instead of a
his development team is working on making the Amadeus booking tool better at
understanding travelers needs and responding by proposing the most appropriate
itinerary and pricing structure. He quoted the example of a traveler who needs
to attend a 9 a.m. meeting in Frankfurt but does not know when the meeting will
end. Amadeus is looking for ways for the tool to assess whether an early
morning flight will get the traveler to the meeting address in time or whether
it will be necessary to travel the night before. It also would suggest and
search for a nonrefundable fare for the outbound journey but a flexible fare
for the return.
future, you will be able to let the tools know what your requirements are and
let the computer do the work," Lacroix said. "We will add some
incremental elements from next year."