Hotel Online  Special Report

Discount Hotels
London, Sydney, Rome, AmsterdamParis, Melbourne, Lisbon, Barcelona, Berlin, Hong Kong, New York, Auckland


American Airlines, Sabre, GetThere, Cliqbook and
Four Seasons Discuss Direction of
Travel Technology


New York (February 22, 2005) - Ultramar Travel Management, Inc. hosted a roundtable, "Defending Your Travel Choice," where the industry's leaders gathered to discuss the future of travel technology. 

With the travel industry undergoing a period of extreme, critical change, new developments occur literally every day. In order to cut through the confusion, Ultramar brought together an unprecedented gathering of industry leaders to reveal their views on the challenges of 2005. 

"We wanted to offer everyone the opportunity to hear straight from the people who are directly affected by the industry's turbulence," said Peter Klebanow, President of Ultramar Travel Management.  "It is important for all parties to understand the threats and opportunities in the industry's immediate future, and I am pleased that Ultramar was able to offer a platform for such an excellent, enlightening discussion," said Klebanow.

The industry panel included: 

  • Chuck Imhof, Managing Director, Greater New York, American Airlines; 
  • Greg Webb, Senior Vice President, Marketing for Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Airline Solutions; 
  • Bev Heinritz, Vice President & General Manager, GetThere; 
  • Todd Horst, Executive Vice President, Sales and Business Development, Cliqbook; 
  • Michael Hayward, Director, Marketing, Planning and Automation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. 
Also in attendance were representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton, UBS, Bear Stearns, Ann Taylor, Institutional Investor, and others responsible for making travel purchasing decisions.

Debate focused on the impact of fragmentation of content and biased displays on the online booking systems and how each player involved is coping amongst this chaos. 

Additional top issues of the day included:

  • The role of low cost carriers 
  • The future of traditional GDSs
  • Hotels, such as the Four Seasons, have little incentive to change or look for alternate distribution mechanisms, rather their focus is to maintain relationships with customers and provide the best platform for each customer.
  • Vendor relationships with each other and the end user, i.e. corporate customer
The panelists noted low cost carriers are used by only a small percentage of corporations and have not been penetrating the corporate marketplace. Mild growth is, however, anticipated in the next few years, including inventory on GDSs. 

Several on the panel stated their belief that the traditional GDSs will emerge the winners as they evolve their models and simplify their processes, for they possess the speed, efficiency, and significantly greater number of connections compared to the new entrants. The new competing technologies -- alternate or backdoor GDSs -- pose no true threat. Rather, the most important factor in travel technology today is the economic model. 

"There's no magic in the new entrants," said Sabre's Greg Webb. "...right now, it's an economic discussion around how [and] what the correct value is for the services that are provided. And so...for our next generation of supplier contracts... we look at what's the right economic model to begin to work in the industry." 

"I think that what we [will] find is that we will push back toward an efficient marketplace and we will push back towards a place where we get into a mode where both suppliers are happy with the way that the model works and that GDSs and other travel management companies or agencies are able to provide the service that the traveling public has come to expect," said Webb.

All panelists agreed that further discussion and collaboration between vendors was essential to the future of business travel, as lowering costs and increasing efficiencies across the industry is critical to pleasing the corporate customer.

"We're evaluating everything and anything that's going to help us lower distribution cost. Whether it be through the GDSs, or through some of the newer technologies, we're evaluating what it all means to our corporate customers, our travel agency partners, and to our end-users, the traveler," said American Airlines' Chuck Imhof.

The panelist discussion clearly revealed that the travel distribution situation and its future are not black and white: new technology will not necessarily simply replace old technology. 

"At the end of the day, it's more of a financial challenge than a technology challenge, and the vendors should therefore focus on the bottom line, not just on changing technology. There needs to be a concerted effort by all parties to work together to lower the costs of distribution for the airlines - and ultimately the end user," said Peter Klebanow, President of Ultramar Travel Management.

About Ultramar
Ultramar is a leading national travel management company dedicated to delivering a superior experience to sophisticated, demanding business travelers for the past 50 years.  Ultramar develops and employs advanced technology that enables intimate personal service, providing exceptional value to its elite clientele. 

Ultramar Travel Management, Inc.
Also See: Hilton's Customer-information System, Called OnQ, Rolling Out Across 8 Hotel Brands; Seeking Guest Loyalty and Competitive Advantage with Proprietary Technology / August 2004
Global Distribution Systems in Present Times - Four Major GDS Systems; Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan / Oct 2002

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.