Amadeus continues to invest significantly in the Canadian market “at a time when our competition has decreased or even stopped investing in their technology and people,” says Scott Alvis, Chief Marketing Officer, Amadeus North America in this edition of Friday 5. The GDS is fully onside with travel agents: “Helping our customers succeed is what gets us up in the morning.”
1. How is the Canadian market performing for Amadeus?
“Very well. We have grown across the North American marketplace and particularly in Canada the past several years.
“We are working with some of the biggest and best travel companies in Canada – from airlines to traditional and online travel agencies – whose success and growth has contributed to ours. And although we don’t report booking figures by country, for the North America region, Amadeus reported a double-digit volume growth increase in travel agency air bookings for the full year 2016.
“We now have 2,000 employees and 12 offices, including Toronto, serving our customers in the U.S. and Canada. Amadeus continues to invest significantly in this market at a time when our competition has decreased or even stopped investing in their technology and people.
“We look forward to continuing to develop our presence in the region and providing our customers with increased access to leading technology, expertise and support.”
2. What new Amadeus products are aimed at helping Amadeus agencies and travel agents work better and more efficiently?
“Helping our customers succeed is what gets us up in the morning. Whether it’s through our products, platforms, services or consulting, we recognize our customers need a lot more than just access to airfares.
“Our goal is to help travel professionals elevate traveller satisfaction, increase efficiency and win in the marketplace every day. The Amadeus Selling Platform is a perfect example. As the most popular retailing application for travel professionals, it serves as the gateway to content, fares and critical functionality that travel agencies need to serve their customers.
“Some of our newest offerings include Amadeus Ticket Changer which enables agencies to process exchange requests in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually. It’s a huge productivity boost and we’ll soon be releasing automated refunds in Canada as well. Amadeus All Fares Plus gives agencies access to the world’s best low fare search technology used by leading online travel companies around the globe. And the newly updated Amadeus Service Hub offers an upgraded 24/7 virtual help desk with self-service options to quickly address support questions.
“Delivering relevant travel content remains central to our focus. We have the most extensive content agreements in place with the airlines essential to the Canadian market. And earlier this year, Air Canada implemented Amadeus’ leading merchandising technology, giving our agencies seamless access and booking capability for their Preferred and Advance paid seat offerings. Our technology platform will also help Air Canada to continue to evolve and deliver its complete range of products, fare families, and ancillary content. Air Canada is one of over 45 airlines currently offering Amadeus ancillary services and fare families in the North American marketplace.”
3. Everyone thinks of GDSs for airfares. Can you talk about the wide range of non-air product that agents can book through Amadeus?
“If a travel professional is using the GDS just to book air travel, at least when it comes to Amadeus, they are leaving opportunity and money on the table. We have a broad, diverse range of non-air offerings available to help them best serve travelers and increase revenue.
“Booking hotels comes top of mind. We offer a diverse hotel marketplace to our subscribers, with 300+ hotel chains and 340,000+ global hotel properties available.
“Forty car rental providers are also available but also a range of other transportation options such as transfers, limo, ferries and rail. And cruising also continues to grow, from leisure weekends to luxury offerings, and especially among consumer groups with discretionary income. These all present great opportunities for agents.
“Amadeus continues to not only secure and fully integrate global non-air content – with many of these providers still offering commissions – but we are also delivering the efficient solutions for booking and management to benefit travel professionals and their customers.”
4. The retail travel industry has undergone a sea change in the past few years, in terms of how they search for and book travel product for their clients. Why are GDSs like Amadeus more relevant and useful for agents than ever?
“Travel professionals continue to need the most effective, efficient and profitable ways of serving travelers. Amadeus is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and three decades in travel technology continue to show that the only thing you can count on is change. And we do.
“The Amadeus System is more relevant and critical today but it’s not the GDS of 30 years ago. Travel professionals are faced more providers, more complexity, more new entrants, new technologies. A great example is the evolution of airfare, with airlines now introducing fare families, merchandising, baggage fees and other unbundled options. And travellers have changed, with their own access to information changing and raising their expectations of travel professionals.
“That’s why travel agencies continue to need one platform, one place, where they can access and book a wide but relevant range of travel options in the most efficient way possible. And that’s why we continue to invest in the expertise and technology that is required to keep pace.”
5. How do you see the continued evolution of technology in the travel industry and what is your outlook for travel agencies?
“Technology continues to change business, society and most aspects of our personal and professional lives. And the speed of that change will continue happening faster than ever. Technology can bring efficiencies, automation, customer knowledge and business opportunities but also disruption and change.
“Travel agencies need to stay current and ‘connected’, literally and figuratively, to the shifts that will continue not only in their business technology, but especially as it relates to travellers. As goes the traveller, so goes the technology and vice versa. Partnering with companies like Amadeus who are at the forefront to help them navigate whatever change might be around the corner will be key. We will continue to do the ‘heavy lifting’ when it comes to content, tools, technology and innovation so our customers don’t have to.”