When global distribution system and travel e-commerce provider Worldspan opened its new full-service branch office in Thessaloniki, it was but a first step in investment plans for the Greek market. Additional investment plans for Greece are imperative in order to build market share and deliver more technology innovation to the Greek travel industry, says the local Worldspan office.
“Intense competition now forces travel agents to become more efficient, productive and expert if they are to deliver higher customer service standards – and technology lies at the heart of their business transformation, ” says Leonidas Zotos, Worldspan country manager for Greece.
He adds, “everyone in the travel industry has suffered over the past year. Travel agents and suppliers know they need to improve customer service standards by delivering additional choice, value and expertise.”
This is why most of the company’s new investment projects will focus on the Internet, he says. Another reason is that for the first time ever, European Internet users now outnumber those in the U.S. (around 186 million users versus 182 million). Europeans, as businesses and consumers, are going online in ever-increasing numbers, and they now account for around one third of the global Internet population. In fact, web sites run by travel suppliers – airlines, hotels, car rentals, tour operators, railways and the like – account for three quarters of all European online travel sales.
To tap into this market, early in the new year Worldspan plans to start rolling out its new Internet Protocol (IP) strategy that migrates all its existing agency customers from their legacy systems to Worldspan solutions based on Internet connectivity.
According to Mr. Zotos this will let agents choose the technology system that suits them best. “There are few organizations that know more than Worldspan about using the Internet to deliver new efficiencies, reach and value in the travel sector,” says Mr. Zotos. “That’s why more than 50% of all online travel agency bookings are processed by Worldspan, and why we work closely with innovators like Expedia, Priceline and lastminute.com.”
Further Internet-based solutions are being launched over the coming months that will provide agents with efficiency and productivity-enhancing tools. These include Worldspan’s Trip ManagerSM corporate travel self-booking tool that can reduce corporate travel costs by up to 20% by ensuring that staff adhere to corporate travel policy and preferred suppliers.
Another Internet-based solution is My Trip and More SM, which is available free to all Worldspan agents. My Trip and More.com is web-based and gives travelers secure access to a web site -which can be the agent’s- and lets them review their personal travel itineraries, as long as they are booked through the Worldspan system, from anywhere in the world.
As well, Worldspan is continuing expansion of e-ticketing, which is becoming more and more popular with both airlines and travelers. Airlines like e-ticketing because it reduces distribution costs. Travelers like e-tickets because they cut queuing and check-in time. Agents like it because it cuts their own time and costs as e-tickets do away with the need to process, print and dispatch paper tickets, says Mr. Zotos.