Big interview: ‘No crisis in intermediation’, says Amadeus head of travel channels

Big interview: ‘No crisis in intermediation’, says Amadeus head of travel channels

New Amadeus head of agency channels Decius Valmorbida spoke to Lee Hayhurst

Travel agents are becoming more important as the industry grows and becomes increasingly complex, according to the Amadeus executive in charge of trade partnerships.

Decius Valmorbida, the technology giant and GDS’s new vice-president of travel channels, said its investment in technology underlines its belief in the future of agents.

He said Amadeus’s focus is on developing a new platform for third parties that will allow them to source whatever product they need to be successful.

“We are seeing more and more airlines coming up with different strategies and different approaches to distribution,” said Valmorbida.

“That makes it harder and harder for us to have a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Airlines are increasingly trying to differentiate between direct and indirect channels, with Europe’s leading carriers – BA parent IAG, Lufthansa and Air France‑KLM – imposing GDS fees on bookings through third parties.

Valmorbida said this means Amadeus will make sure its agency platform will provide traditional GDS fares as well as direct connect API [application programming interface] content, Iata’s New Distribution Capability and even screen-scraping.

He said ultimately it is the consumer who will decide which channels are most valuable to them and, as many are looking to shop around and are not loyal to any particular brand, agents are playing a more vital role than ever.

“There are a number of technical ways agents can source content and we would like all options to be available through the Amadeus travel platform,” Valmorbida said.

“At the moment the industry is fragmenting content, so there is value in someone bringing that back together in one place. All strategies based around fragmenting of content only strengthen the role of the travel agent.”

As third parties become less reliant on supplier partnerships based on commissions, they act more as agents for the consumer who understand the value of unbiased, independent advice and expertise, said Valmorbida.

“We do not feel we are in any way in competition for the loyal consumer,” he added.

“Generic shoppers will go to stores that specialise in selling trips and those stores need the technology to put all the choices to those casual shoppers.

“The more choice in the market the greater the need for intermediaries to make sense of the various options. We see no crisis in intermediation, quite the opposite; it’s an area that’s thriving. It’s becoming more and more interesting with lots of innovation.”

Valmorbida said Amadeus will also invest in technology to help agents make more of the 60% of product in travel bookings that is non-air and exploit mobile to offer in-trip ancillary services and product.

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