ChinaTravelNews, Ritesh Gupta - Airline IT and distribution specialists have evolved considerably over the years. As airlines are continuously seeking ways of refining their direct and indirect distribution, such specialists are now ready to serve via both best-of-breed/ integrated offering, as well as for any particular service in the distribution technology chain that is needed by carriers.
It is interesting to assess how an entity of Amadeus’ stature is gearing up to capitalize on emerging opportunities in China. Because this is one market where carriers are gradually showing signs of embracing what it takes to craft a top-notch merchandising strategy.
Broadening the gamut of IT solutions
It is always intriguing to know how Chinese carriers are improvising on their existing reservation and inventory capabilities to add both new air and non-air products. Also, what is being done to attain a certain level of precision targeting across multiple channels i. e. narrowing the choice of merchandising to a point where a customer is served what he or she is likely to find meaningful as per the phase of the trip.
Brian Chien, Amadeus China’s general manager
Brian Chien, Amadeus China’s general manager, says the entity is ready on several fronts.
He says the key objective is to bring airlines and travel sellers together in an open, intelligent, global travel ecosystem that matches supply with demand in real-time.
And this would provide an enhanced and personalised service to the traveller.
“This vision will be built on three pillars,” explains Chien.
First, the development and roll out of a new merchandising system that will enable airlines to create their offering dynamically, to provide consumers with the most relevant offer at any given time, through any point of sale of any channel, direct or indirect and through any device.
Second, the evolution of the company’s retailing and distribution systems to pave way for effective delivery of enhanced airline content at the point of sale, whether in the direct or indirect channel.
Finally, the full integration of both the merchandising system and Amadeus’ retailing and distribution systems with the company’s PSS Suite.
“This would result in a truly joined-up and end-to-end traveller journey across key touch points such as servicing, delivery, disruption management (managing flight disruptions based on personalized and intelligent re-accommodation options) plus ticketing and fulfilment,” says Chien. As for personalized offers, these will be tied together by data from the company’s Travel Intelligence division to drive related decision-making.
As for distribution, the association with offline agencies and its role as a GDS, too, are other important business areas for Amadeus.
From a customer’s perspective, Chien says by 2030, hyper-customisation will be the default expectation among many.
This would call for a major sophistication in getting closer to even knowing a potential traveller needs. For instance, a certain section of audience would demand authentic and individual experiences, drifting away from mass-market destinations. Agencies would need to package something based on an understanding of what drives a certain behavior.
“There is a clear and urgent need for them to better understand their customers’ changing motivations and desires,” he says.
Progress is already being made.
The travel intelligence team at Amadeus is aiding travel agencies, both online and offline, leverage big data technologies. This is done by transforming market and traveller data into unique and actionable insights around data points such as new routes and markets to address, travellers’ search behavior and performance against competitors. For instance, the search analysis gives agencies insight into their customers’ travel intentions by analysing search data. The booking analysis component underlines trends pertaining to growing routes and airlines, and the data can be used to enhance sales monitoring, improve supplier management etc.
Also, worth following is deregulation of this market for GDS companies. Chien says Amadeus has expanded teams in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. “Amadeus is regularly in contact with travel agencies in China to ensure they are trained to use our system and understand the services available,” shared Chien.
As of today, CAAC has approved bookings for authorised international airlines via Amadeus in China, and Amadeus has gained approval from the IATA for mainland BSP certification.
“We look forward to being able to fulfil ticketing requirements for the first time in China,” stated Chien.
The GDS content, an attractive proposition for supporting OTAs’ plan to target outbound travellers, too, is resulting in growth in the e-commerce segment. For instance, earlier this year, Amadeus started providing all air content for points of sale outside of Mainland China to OTA Ctrip for four markets; Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and the U. S. Providing an update, Chien mentioned that the scope now also includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand. Amadeus’ dealing with OTAs also features technology solutions such as its low fare search engine.
As for non-distribution related business, in the last 12 months, Amadeus has integrated Alipay and UnionPay to the Amadeus Payment Platform, to give Chinese travellers the convenience of using their preferred payment card.
Brian Chien is scheduled is scheduled to speak at the upcoming 2015 TravelDaily Conference in Shanghai (September 16 – 17).