“I am convinced that the Central, Eastern and Southern European region is living exponential times,” Juan Antonio Carrasco, Amadeus’ director of CESE markets, said at the launch and the closing of the Amadeus CESE e-Commerce Leaders Forum 2010 that recently took place in Sophia Antipolis on the French Riviera.
Designed under the theme “Brighter, Bolder, Better e-Commerce,” Amadeus, a leading provider of technology to the travel and tourism industry, in late November 2010 brought together key industry executives and tourism experts from the CESE region and explored future industry and online trends while focusing on how they are likely to impact the travel industry.
The first session of the forum, entitled “Brighter landscape in the travel world,” opened with the very interesting and informative presentation on social media by Florence Kaci from travel industry research authority PhoCusWright. “Social media is definitely opening doors to communication,” Ms. Kaci told the audience.
“You can ignore social media, but social media will not ignore you,” she said referring to the fact that travel and tourism businesses sometimes appear not to take social media seriously.
The next presentation that turned heads and was mentioned almost throughout the entire forum was that of Ignacio Martos, CEO of Opodo, a pan-European online travel company.
Mr. Martos underlined the main challenges faced by tourism professionals of today such as the appearance of mobile technology solutions underway across the industry.
“The mobile phone is just another channel to an agency…It will not kill your business,” Mr. Martos told professionals.
The use of content available through mobile devices is common for the European traveler for map services or seeking help during a journey through itinerary support.
In regards to Greek travelers, only recently have they begun to become familiar with the use of mobile devices when traveling.
According to Jean Marc Garzulino, manager of Amadeus’ Regional Solution Center for CESE in Warsaw, Poland, Amadeus is following this global trend as “smartphones are very advanced and now everywhere, and more and more users will use them to book any kind of content.
“We are developing our mobile technology, Amadeus Checkmytrip is the best example, and more is to come in 2011,” he said. “No doubt it will grow a lot in Greece also,” he told GTP.
The second session of the forum opened the floor to experts from Amadeus who gave presentations on bolder challenges and better content for the travel and tourism industry.
During the presentation of Sergio Vargas, Amadeus’ travel agency strategy expert, the “content challenge” travel agencies are up against was focused upon.
“Amadeus is looking for new ways to integrate content for multiple sources to serve you the best way possible and to assure the best breadth, depth and quality in the business,” Mr. Vargas told the audience.
Mr. Vargas also made special reference to the distribution platform “Content Inn by Amadeus,” which fills the gap in customer demand for quick and easy access to hotel suppliers and other travel services.
The initiative was introduced to the Greek market in late 2009 and warmly embraced, according to Juan Antonio Carrasco, Amadeus’ director of CESE markets.
“We are signing contracts every month with big Greek agencies and I think the feedback of the agencies is very positive in terms of the functionality that ‘content inn’ is providing,” he told GTP.
Amadeus also plans to integrate rail into the online booking process and this way meet the high expectations of the international traveler.
In regards to Greek rail, Mr. Carrasco said Amadeus would be very happy to assist if Greek railway company OSE sees a business need to improve their distribution strategy or if travel sellers would like to sell Greek railways. (Currently European travel agencies can not make bookings on Greece’s railway.)
High Hopes Expressed For Greek Travel Market
“What we have seen is a growth in our market share in Greece…At least for the first nine months of 2010, the market was growing in terms of bookings,” Juan Antonio Carrasco, Amadeus’ director of the CESE region, told GTP at a media briefing during the Amadeus 2010 Forum in France.
Mr. Carrasco spoke confidently in regards to the Greek market and underlined that despite the crisis, Amadeus’ presence in the Greek market has not been affected.
However, he added that the current situation in the Greek market does not help Amadeus move as rapidly as expected. “We prefer to move a bit slowly but surely in terms of our commercial proposition to customers,” he said.
On his part, Jean Marc Garzulino, manager of Amadeus’ Regional Solution Center for CESE in Warsaw, Poland, informed GTP of the center’s operation in relation to Amadeus’ position in the Greek market. The center was launched last year and supports Amadeus’ commitment to the region by catering the specific needs of the CESE travel industry.
“Greece has been by far the main market for the center, with consultancy missions, online projects, customization of the front office, processes improvement, and business development,” he said.
Mr. Garzulino underlined that Greece was one of the leading markets in the CESE region, with a lot of competition and complexity, and very demanding in terms of high-end solutions, customized to customers and market needs.
Therefore, the Greek market has definitely been the biggest provider to the center.
“The center has a very positive impact on Greece, as well as excellent feedback from customers that request for even more support from the center,” he said.