Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Technology

Travelport Integrates Corporate Booking Tool Following Deem Acquisition

10 months ago

Travelport has completed the integration of corporate booking tool Deem, which it acquired earlier this year

Travelport — along with its two larger competitors, public companies Amadeus and Sabre — primarily act as marketplaces to connect airlines and travel agents. 

While Amadeus and Sabre have had in-house corporate travel booking tools in recent years, Travelport has not since it sold Locomote in 2019.

The Deem tool is now part of Travelport+, the next generation of the booking platform for travel agents that Travelport has been developing over the past two years. And agencies that had been using Deem can now access Travelport data through the platform, which is still also compatible with data from Amadeus and Sabre.

The software from Deem is meant to provide travel agents a simpler, more modern experience than has been historically available for corporate travel. And the software includes a tool that travelers can use to manage their own trips. 

“It extends the vision that we set for Travelport back in 2019 or early 2020, which was we wanted to create a more modern retailing experience that was more akin to what leisure travelers might experience,” said John Elieson, chief operating officer and deputy CEO of Travelport.

“You go to a site like Travelocity or Expedia or Priceline, and you’ve just got this really intuitive, enjoyable experience. And yet in corporate travel, it’s just much clunkier.”

Travelport CEO Greg Webb said early this year that more than 80% of the company’s travel agent customers were using Travelport+ at that time, and the rest were expected to transition in the following 12 to 18 months.

Tourism

Chinese Shift from Short Holidays to Plan Longer Breaks for Labor Day

1 year ago

Outbound travel from mainland China during the Labor Day holiday period reached a three-year high this year, according to data released by travel technology company Travelport.

Also, unlike the rest of the year, the Labor Day period shows a notable increase in the length of travel with holidays lasting longer than 10 days, which could explain the popularity of long-haul destinations during this time.

Among the top 10 destinations during this period, long-haul stops like the UK and Canada have gained popularity, with the U.S. claiming the second spot, Travelport data showed.

Travel bookings for the Labor Day period increased 470 percent this year compared to 2022, while outbound bookings from mainland China in the first quarter increased by 331 percent compared to last year, said Travelport

Labor Day in China, which falls on May 1, is an annual public holiday. The period has been expanded to include a three-day break, making it one of the most popular times of the year for travel.

April 24 through May 7 (the week of Labor Day and the week prior) tend to be the most ideal dates for travelers to get away.

The five-day break starting Saturday will be the first long public holiday for Chinese travelers since the Lunar New Year.

Travelport observed that for the rest of the year, tourists from mainland China are taking shorter holidays as most trips span between two and four days.

As a result, Hong Kong and Macau are the top two destinations this year for which mainland Chinese travelers have made the highest number of bookings, according to Travelport.

According to the South China Morning Post, hotel room rates in Hong Kong have risen significantly in anticipation of the upcoming Labour Day holiday, even though reservations remain lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors to Macau in March increased by 271 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching 1,956,867, according to the Statistics and Census Service.

The majority of visitors, 1,242,358, were from Mainland China. From January to March, there were 4,948,358 arrivals with the average length of stay remaining stable at 1.2 days.

Emphasizing the trend for shorter trips, Travelport’s data also revealed that of all the flight options available from mainland China, the majority (71 percent) are bound for Asia Pacific.

Low Flight Capacity

China is currently facing challenges with flight capacity. A sentiment echoed by Trip.com Group while announcing its fourth quarterly results.

Even as Chinese carriers raised international capacity by 44 percent in April, adding 935,000 seats between March and April, the current international airline capacity is only 37 percent of what it was in April 2019, according to airline data firm OAG.

Moreover, international airline capacity constitutes only 4 percent of all Chinese airline capacity.

On December 27, when China made its much-anticipated announcement removing the quarantine requirement for inbound travelers, outbound flight bookings from mainland China increased by 247 percent when compared to the same day the previous month, Travelport noted.

Pent-up demand for outbound travel from mainland China is massive, with 40 percent of respondents in a McKinsey survey wanting to travel and prioritize international destinations for their next trip.

China has been the largest source market in the world for outbound tourism since 2012.

Chinese tourists made 166 million outbound international trips in 2019, spending $277 billion on global tourism.

Travel Technology

Travelport Owners Inject $200 Million to Sustain Its Travel Tech Growth

1 year ago

Travel technology company Travelport revealed on Friday it had received a $200 million investment from its owners, Siris Capital Group and Elliott Management. Based in Langley, UK, the privately held company didn’t disclose its financial performance other than to say it had achieved “a strong first-quarter performance.”

The investment may have partly helped Travelport to acquire Deem, the corporate travel player, as Skift reported earlier this month. Those companies didn’t disclose the price or terms of that transaction.

“The main advantage of private equity ownership is agility, which is crucial in a rapidly changing environment,” said CEO Greg Webb in a statement.

Skift recently published an interview with Webb about the company’s strategy. Travelport’s software supports travel bookings for more than 100,000 travel agents.

Airlines

Copa Airlines Raises Global Distribution Surcharge to $18

1 year ago

Panama’s Copa Airlines is increasing its surcharge for tickets issued in Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport from $12 to $18 per direction.

The fee hike takes effect from April 3, 2023 — coinciding with when American Airlines removes 40 percent of its own airfares from these same retail channels

In both cases, the airlines are pushing travel agencies and other retailers to move towards so-called New Distribution Capability. This is a technology standard developed by the International Air Transport Association, and it aims to give airlines more control over their airfares, rather than rely on global distribution systems, such as Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport.

What’s interesting is that up until now, Europe’s airlines were the ones adding expensive fees to encourage adoption. Now it seems to be catching on in the Americas region.  

In March 2022, Copa Airlines said that Copa Connect would be the best way for travel agencies to access its fares, schedules, and other content. “Through Copa Connect, agencies will be able to provide their clients better offers in a more innovative and efficient way. Among the benefits are: access to better fares, exclusive sales promotions, access to ancillary products, and others,” it said.

Since September it has added a $12 Distribution Cost Recovery Surcharge. Reports on social media suggest the increase to $18 will apply April 3.

Copa Airlines’ website reflects that: “A fixed amount of $18 will be charged per direction (or each “one-way” of the trip) whenever Copa Airlines participates as the marketing carrier regardless of the operating or ticketing carrier,” says its FAQ document.

The American Society of Travel Advisors, which represents 160,000 travel agency workers, this month asked American Airlines to push back its move date to the end of the year. It argues that withholding such a substantial portion of its fares from “critical independent distribution channels” will have a negative impact on corporate travelers.

Copa Airlines recently expanded its direct connection partnership, through New Distribution Capability, with Envision Tecnologia, according to reports.

It’s currently one of the world’s most profitable carriers too, thanks in part to the location of its Panama City hub.

Business Travel

Travelport Is Selling Off Its Corporate Hotel Booking Platform Hotelzon

1 year ago

Travelport is planning to sell its Hotelzon division to corporate travel agency startup TripStax, which was officially launched earlier this year — by two former execs at Travelport.

Hotelzon claims to offer 1.5 million properties from multiple content sources that include Booking.com and Expedia, and says it has 370,000 users, including travel agencies, corporations and event management companies.

It was established in 1972, but has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Travelport since 2014.

TripStax signed the agreement to acquire Hotelzon as of Dec. 1 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TripStax said the agreement establishes a “long-term strategic relationship between TripStax and Travelport whereby Hotelzon will continue to generate hotel bookings on Travelport+.”

Travelport has been streamlining its technology since it announced Travelport+ in April last year.

Skift first revealed the development of TripStax as a spin-off from corporate travel agency ATPI in July 2021. TripStax’s investors include Intermediate Capital Group, which is one of ATPI Group’s owners. ATPI also made a significant investment, with ATPI CEO Ian Sinderson joining TripStax as a director.

Jack Ramsey, CEO of TripStax, was previously global sales director at Hotelzon.

The Unbundling Trend

TripStax said the acquisition will boost its technology offering of “connected proprietary business travel modules with a fully integrated hotel booking tool for agencies and corporates direct.”

The travel agency startup wants to stand out from the crowd by offering modules, such as analytics, content and traveler tracking, rather than a full service. Corporate travel agencies are under growing pressure to separate their bundled services as company travel managers look to cut costs and add flexibility.

Hotelzon will be integrated as an additional module.

It is the second acquisition made by TripStax, following its purchase of TapTrip earlier in the year. TapTrip also received investment from ATPI.

“Since its conception, TripStax has been on the look-out for acquisitions which add relevant and complementary tech to its already powerful stack of business travel management modules,” said Ramsay. “We are also excited to welcome the hugely experienced Hotelzon team to the TripStax business and plan to further invest in the team to strengthen existing customer and supplier relationships and realise the full potential of this joint opportunity.”

Business Travel

Mondee Adds 6 Million Subscribers Ahead of SPAC Deal

2 years ago

Travel technology company Mondee has seen “enhanced marketing costs” as it builds up the number of subscribers for its travel platforms.

The company now has 10 million users signed up to its subscription products including TripPlanet and Unpub, compared to four million in December last year. The boost may be a result of its new alliance with Arthur J. Gallagher, which gave it access to 287,000 business and organizations.

However, gaining new subscribers comes at a cost. Mondee posted a net loss of $7 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, “after enhanced marketing costs to acquire lifetime customers and increase market share at this opportune inflection point of post-pandemic recovery.”

Mondee made a net loss of $12 million in the 2021 first quarter.

Gross revenue was $469 million, up 205 percent year-over-year, compared to $154 million in the first quarter of 2021. Net revenue was $38 million, up 179 percent year-over-year.

The results were posted on Friday, ahead of its planned business combination with Ithax Acquisition Corp. Mondee wants to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “MOND”.

Its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $2 million, an improvement of $6 million compared to a loss of $4 million in the first quarter last year.

Last month Ithax, a special purpose acquisition company, raised an additional $20 million for its private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from Elliott Management and Siris Capital — the institutional investors who happen to be owners of Travelport.

Founder and CEO Prasad Gundumogula has said the company was ready to get back to a vigorous tempo of growth it saw before coronavirus. “The Mondee Marketplace made significant progress, buoyed not only by the post-pandemic travel recovery, but also by our unique traveltech ecosystem, causing us to regain the vigorous tempo of our pre-pandemic organic growth,” he said.

“Our customers and travelers have been early adopters of our recent fintech, martech, insurtech, and other ancillary offerings, driving the almost three-fold organic increase in our year-over-year net revenue.”