Skift Take

The state of travel bookings is already complex and it's only going to get worse, says SilverRail CEO Aaron Gowell. To keep up, the industry needs a more comprehensive booking system.

Aaron Gowell, the CEO of SilverRail, thinks that the process of booking trips across multiple platforms and modes of transportation is broken.

In a talk at the Skift Global Forum 2016 at Lincoln Center in Manhattan on Wednesday, Gowell illustrated his point with a typical trip that he takes across London. Involving the local train network, Uber and Google Maps, a common traveler’s journey often spans multiple modes of transportation, booking engines and mobile apps. In an ideal world, however, an empowered traveler would only need to use one single app and one single itinerary.

SilverRail, Gowell’s company, takes a bite out of this complexity by providing a platform that ingests and distributes rail data in a simple and bookable format. This data is particularly relevant in places like England, where multiple rail companies book and operate journeys — many with unique websites and booking engines.

By simplifying rail data from multiple sources, SilverRail produces a feed that’s easily readable by Online Travel Agents (OTAs), which, in turn, can better sell tickets. Last Wednesday, Expedia UK was among the first of the OTAs to start selling rail tickets from its frontpage, a traditionally difficult task.

But Gowell says that the industry needs higher ambitions. Returning to the illustration of the multi-mode journey, Gowell sees a future in which a single, powerful tool can ingest data from rental cars, trains, hotels and even airlines to generate a single booking and a simple itinerary — a Rosetta Stone of booking, of sorts.

“Our biggest challenge is to think about the problem of mega cities,” Gowell said on the upcoming convolution of multiple transportation modes across connected networks. “Unchecked, the booking process is only going to get more complex.”

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Tags: sgf2016, silverrail, skift global forum

Photo credit: SilverRail CEO Aaron Gowell speaking at Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 28, 2016. Skift

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