Amadeus Column: Distribution is changing

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From driverless cars to virtual reality, the world is facing unprecedented technological change. So, it will not come as a big surprise that we can also expect momentous change in the world of travel distribution.

Consumers want instant gratification and seamless experiences. They expect mobile virtual assistants to know their personal preferences and highlight restaurants and shops in their immediate vicinity they could potentially like.

So how would this need for personalisation impact on distribution?

Airlines have already had to diversify their offering to tailor their customer experiences through merchandising options and ancillary services. And they have turned to global distribution systems such as Amadeus to distribute this increasingly complex content.

Travel agencies are also turning to the GDS for innovation and change. Consumers are expecting more inspirational and user-friendly websites and apps backed by smooth, speedy transactions. They want online retailers to recall their profile, have an efficient purchasing process, provide clear delivery options and pricing and have websites that don’t crash.

GDSs are being called upon to develop new technologies that can enhance their client’s travel experience. This experience may include more tailored travel packages or greater flexibility to purchase additional services during the trip.

All this in the midst of major disruptions from the online quarters of Google, Facebook and Apple, which are expected to lead with innovations such as virtual assistants and travel booking integrated into social media and messaging.

With the continued rise to power of the gatekeepers – this is what they call these giants – traffic acquisition could become the biggest cost for any business, according to a recent London School of Economics report. Online travel agencies are already spending millions of dollars every day to be positioned first in the top pages of these gatekeepers.

Amadeus works with both the online travel agencies and the gatekeepers to increase efficiencies and provide the most complete and transparent offer for the end traveller.

The simple truth is that travel distribution will change drastically over the coming decade. Although we don’t know how fast it will all change, we are sure that distribution business models will need to evolve to encompass shared innovation, a culture of experimentation and cross-industry alliances to grasp the opportunities fully.

Amadeus is already rising to the challenge and shaping the future of travel distribution.

Paul de Villiers, Vice-President Amadeus Africa