Q&A: Point and click

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New and exciting products are being launched to assist travel companies and corporations deliver the exceptional experiences demanded by the industry and by travellers today, under the careful and creative eye of the new man on campus. Melissa Bosch speaks to the man behind Travelport Southern Africa.

How does Travelport assist corporations and travel agencies reach the highest level of productivity?

Travelport combines the strengths and unparalleled reach of two of the world’s leading global distribution systems (GDS), Galileo and Worldspan. The main driving force of Travelport’s GDS is to increase productivity and efficiency, with the aim of the travel agent to deliver the best possible customer service to the traveller. This is achieved through automation and valueadded technology solutions. Innovative tools are also available to the traveller such as, ‘VIEWTRIP’. This is an Internet access facility to assist travellers to view flight times, meal requests, frequent flyer details and seat numbers, providing peace of mind and assurance that all of their needs are being attended too. Our specialised travel technology solutions meet the diverse travel planning and management needs of travel agencies throughout the world, and the strategic distribution requirements of travel suppliers worldwide.

What training services does Travelport offer?

Emphasis on training has always been a priority for me as my career with Travelport started in the training department. Our product has evolved over the years from a cryptic to a graphical user interface environment ‘point and click’. To elaborate, all our training courses are online for travel agents to do the training modules at their own pace via our ELearning programme. In addition, Travelport aims to provide industry standards and facilitates classroom training as well as the online ‘ASK TRAVELPORT’ helpdesk facility. Our training offering directly contributes to the professionalism and knowledge of the travel industry across Southern Africa. A wonderful initiative that Travelport is focusing on is the ‘Empower Programme’ in conjunction with the department of tourism in KwaZulu-Natal. The purpose of the programme is to train and grow 12 previously disadvantaged owners of travel businesses, thereby putting skill and understanding back into the community.

Does Travelport plan to expand into the rest of Africa?

Travelport already has a large footprint in Africa namely, Angola, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to mention some. The strategic expansion plan for Travelport is concentrated in Africa as we believe there is a good return on investment in these emerging markets. This joins the focus we have had in other growing regions such as China and India.

Travelport has just launched two new products in the South African market. Could you give a brief description of these?

Yes, we are very excited about our two new products, namely Travelport Mobile Booking Solution and B&B content offering. South Africa is the first market where we launched these innovative products. Our Mobile Booking Solution was launched on 21 November 2010. The purpose of this product is for convenience, efficiency and bookability 24/7. All the necessary information required when travelling can be accessed from your smartphone. Travellers are able to book air, cars, and hotels, and view existing booking directly at their convenience. To reiterate, we want to increase efficiency and productivity on a continual basis. Our other new initiative is the Travelport Leisure – Bed & Breakfast content offering. This industry across Southern Africa. A wonderful initiative that Travelport is focusing on is the ‘Empower Programme’ in conjunction with the department of tourism in KwaZulu-Natal. The purpose of the programme is to train and grow 12 previously disadvantaged owners of travel businesses, thereby putting skill and understanding back into the community.

Does Travelport plan to expand into the rest of Africa?

Travelport already has a large footprint in Africa namely, Angola, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to mention some. The strategic expansion plan for Travelport is concentrated in Africa as we believe there is a good return on investment in these emerging markets. This joins the focus we have had in other growing regions such as China and India.

Travelport has just launched two new products in the South African market. Could you give a brief description of these?

Yes, we are very excited about our two new products, namely Travelport Mobile Booking Solution and B&B content offering. South Africa is the first market where we launched these innovative products. Our Mobile Booking Solution was launched on 21 November 2010. The purpose of this product is for convenience, efficiency and bookability 24/7. All the necessary information required when travelling can be accessed from your smartphone. Travellers are able to book air, cars, and hotels, and view existing booking directly at their convenience. To reiterate, we want to increase efficiency and productivity on a continual basis. Our other new initiative is the Travelport Leisure – Bed & Breakfast content offering. This product allows TMCs (Travel Management Companies) the opportunity to book over 2300 B&Bs, including boutique hotels, across Southern Africa. Travellers who have extended stays now have the opportunity to invite their families to stay with them over the weekends as there is a wide range of accommodation suitable to all needs. This is available through the Travelport’s Bed and breakfast content, thus streamlining and offering a more efficient booking process.

Why was it important to introduce a mobile booking tool?

According to statistics there are more mobile phones than people, therefore it is another channel to reach customers in a more convenient way. We are in an era where we are reliant on our mobile phones to do everything from Internet searches to Internet banking, and therefore it is a natural progression to make travel reservations and content available to the consumer This tool puts the correct travel information straight into the hands of the traveller without losing the services and expertise of your travel management company. Travelport strives to be content rich, which is normally limited on other travel booking sites.

Are there any products in the pipeline for 2011?

Travelport wants to continue to be proactive and we are continually building efficiency. We are investing in new, groundbreaking technology, called Universal Desktop. This product works across multiple content sources and is the first intelligent GDS desktop with automated processes that saves time and enables travel agents to easily source an array of information from a GDS platform.