Amadeus Celebrates 30 years in travel


For three decades Amadeus has been a leading technology innovator in the global travel and tourism industry.

This year it was officially named the Best Global Distribution Company in South Africa for the second consecutive year at the sixth annual Business Traveller Africa Awards, held in Sandton in September.

“Our travel industry partners have independently voted us the best travel technology partner in the South Africa – a distinction for which we are very grateful and recognition of the role we are taking in shaping the future of travel technology across Africa,” says Jannine Adams, Marketing Manager, Amadeus Southern Africa.

The accolade comes as Amadeus celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Andy Hedley, Amadeus GM Southern Africa, says: “Amadeus has come a long way in the last 30 years. We have gone from our first PNR in 1992 to 1.3 billion passengers last year. And I can assure you that the next 30 years in travel are going to be an exciting ride.”


Could you imagine travelling when the only way to get from Johannesburg to New York was a tall ship? You would need a few weeks! Or how about before the invention of wheeled luggage? Talk about a real pain. How about before the PNR? Lose your paper ticket and you were out of luck.

Who remembers Paper Tickets?

Back in the day, travel agents printed out paper airline tickets using old-fashioned teletype machines. Today, we carry our tickets on our mobile phones. Bar code readers check flight status at the gate, replacing paper boarding passes. E-ticketing is the new norm.

Do you remember a time before the internet?

“Thirty years ago, selling travel was like selling apples or oranges. People went to the local travel agent and purchased their travel. Today, travellers shop around on the internet and look for value and personalisation,” says Hedley.

For travel agents, travel has become a lot more complex as well, explains Hedley. He says: “The travel agent’s main job was to book their clients on a flight and issue the ticket. That’s it; they were done. Today, travel agents need to manage their customers’ needs throughout the journey. The world is totally different today.”

Do you remember the airplanes 30 years ago?

Who remembers the smoking on airplanes, and the movie on the one tiny screen in the middle of the aircraft? “That’s something I definitely don’t miss,” says Hedley.

On the other hand, Hedley explains that 30 years ago, travel used to be a luxury adventure with larger seats, more leg space and travellers being treated as royalty. “Air travel used to be an experience in itself – now travel is merely a means to get from A to B,” he says.

Seamless travel is the future.

Tomorrow’s travellers will want the world to join together and connect travel around their particular needs. They’ll expect their journeys to be one single seamless travel experience – from thinking of where to go, to buying tickets, to arriving at the airport, to travelling and then reaching their final destination. And if unavoidable disruptions do occur, they’ll expect to be instantly informed on how it will affect them personally via their mobile devices. This means that businesses need to speed up, put data in the driving seat and find new ways to become even more connected to customers.

Amadeus is building the platforms that will allow the streamlining of every travel micro-moment, from inspiration to post-trip reporting. As an IT partner, Amadeus offers solutions that collect and analyse travel data, generating real-time insights to apply this knowledge (preferences, customer value, propensity to buy a service) into servicing, merchandising and retailing environments. It will allow airlines to personalise every interaction they may have with all customers, while respecting privacy regulations.

Simplification will be key.

“Travel will continue to accelerate. New sources of data and information will keep growing exponentially. The environment is going to be more complex, diverse and more dynamic. Bringing simplification to our customers and to travellers is a key challenge ahead of us,” says Philippe Ravier, Associate Director Portfolio Management and Pre-Sales Western Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Artificial Intelligence will gain ground.

“The main innovation that will change the face of travel over the next 30 years is Artificial Intelligence. It will be a game changer for travellers in the way they interact with travel providers,” says Luigi Battista, Head of Commercial Strategies and Operations Amadeus Africa.

Artificial intelligence will also enhance the role of the travel agent or TMC, according to Hedley. An agent’s role has simply evolved from tasks like booking a flight ticket to focus on providing a much better personalised level of service and a more meaningful experience for customers.

The progression of technology, if harnessed correctly, could dramatically boost the potential for agents to present consumers with personalised, niche travel experiences that they didn’t know they were looking for, and that are relevant and desirable. This experience would not only outperform the experience of searching online but would also add a new layer of value to the role of the agent.

Biometric tech will change the way we travel.

New technologies have been disrupting and transforming the travel industry. In the next 30 years, biometrics will continue this transformation. Fingerprints, facial and iris recognition will replace electronic tickets, boarding passes or hotel check-in and will contribute to improving the travel experience.

Blockchain will change the traveller experience. Blockchain technology will vastly improve the traveller’s experience before, during and after the trip. It will serve to authenticate the traveller when purchasing any service, during airport check-in or when taking a transfer – without taking any personal information.

Get in touch to see where Amadeus could take you.


1987 – Amadeus began life as a GDS with the mission to connect providers’ content with travel agencies and consumers in real time. Over time, Amadeus diversified its operations by also focusing on IT to deliver services spanning beyond sales and reservation functionalities.

2.6 billion – Amadeus is processing 2.6 billion transactions per day.

1.3 billion – Amadeus boarded 1.3 billion passengers in 2016.

30,000 – Amadeus systems handle up to 30,000 data requests per second.