As today’s global distribution giants are looking to the future, perhaps the most forward-looking in recent memory has been Travelport as it forges ahead in third place among the big three global distribution systems.
In addition to its embrace of advanced air merchandising before its rivals, the company has also placed a big bet on providing global payments solutions through its eNett division.
“We’re excited about it because it grew in the last quarter by 80 percent, year-over-year in terms of revenue, and we’re addressing a massive total addressable market,” said Travelport president and CEO Gordon Wilson on stage at Skift Tech Forum in June. “It’s solving a problem that the industry has had for years, in terms of how a travel agency or a Booking.com can make payments to suppliers in a cost-effective streamlined way. It’s running on full power at the moment.”
Making it easier to manage and buy travel is the company’s goal, and the payments part of the equation has long been neglected by the travel technology sector. While there are many business-to-business financial technology services out there, Travelport wants to navigate the complex web of relations between buyers and sellers with these new services.
It isn’t lost on Wilson that beyond the traditional online booking sites, global social networks will likely become sellers of travel in the near future. Over the last few years, Travelport has worked to develop new capabilities that empower newer entrants to the sector where travel will be booked predominantly on mobile.
“We’ve been investing a lot in next-generation APIs [advanced programming interfaces],” said Wilson. “That all lends itself to new entrants to the travel space. With those kinds of APIs, anybody whether its Alibaba or Amazon or Facebook or Instagram can access all the rich content and capabilities we can provide. So we have proof of concepts open with Instagram because they are sources of consumer transactions for us to process.”
Travelport has built systems to bring richer content to travel sellers, partnering with global airlines to let them more effectively sell things like seat upgrades and basic economy fares. While few customers are using these capabilities today, it’s clear that the company has built solutions with great potential for the future.
“The answer is low,” said Gordon of the number of bookings made using this technology today. “To be clear, we don’t just put this content into the travel agency desktop. We also put it into our OTA customers, and people like Concur. We now have 263 airlines fully integrated so they can show all their fare families and ancillaries… 263 airlines account for 70 percent of our transactions for airlines.”
You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Tech Forum.
At Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley, travel tech executives gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.