An addendum to the booking tool debate is Egencia’s recent purchase of Traveldoo, a European online booking tool specialist. Peymirat explains that the deal was a pure technology play. “We will run the business separately,” he says. “Not everyone wants Egencia’s integrated solution, but they might be interested in the Traveldoo self-booking tool.”
It also owns Ebookers.com in Europe with Hotelclub as its APAC-focused accommodation-only website. Orbitz Worldwide has had a complicated corporate history, resulting in travel tech giant Travelport now having a 48 per cent stake in the business. Frank Petito, president of Orbitz
For Business, stakes a claim to being one of the first TMCs to emerge from a leisure-focused parent company. “We recognised 10 years ago that many corporate travellers started to question why they were paying a travel manager to book their trips when they could do it themselves online,” he says.
Orbitz is very interested in small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) as well as bigger accounts, and has recently launched Orbitz for Business Express for the SME sector. Petito explains that Orbitz for
Business is “a supercharged version of the Orbitz.com platform, taking everything the leisure site can do and adding corporate requirements such as reporting, duty of care, a dedicated call centre and negotiated rates”. Orbitz for Business Express sits between the Orbitz leisure and corporate brands. However, the differences between the three TMCs may be wider than one might initially have thought, particularly when it comes to booking tools. Egencia has its own integrated
solution, which as mentioned takes elements from the leisure platform, but to all intents and purposes is a proprietary technology – a booking tool exclusive to Egencia. Travelocity Business has totally outsourced the booking tool side of its business. Karmis
The leisure-based TMCs’ core competency – technology – is now a prerequisite for the whole sector
explains: “We decided not to build own our booking tool because we think in the long-run it is difficult to sustain.” Instead, Travelocity Business has a commercial relationship with Get There and recently signed a deal with Concur as well. “The idea is they make the specific investments needed for the booking tool and we concentrate our resources elsewhere.” Petito at Orbitz for Business views the decision to use its own technology for its booking tool as a significant point of difference. “Our booking tools tap into the core competency of the business that is using technology to make booking travel easier. We can leverage decades’ worth of knowledge and millions of dollars’ worth of investment,” he says.
GOING GLOBAL Another difference is their approach to international business. Egencia has dedicated points of sale in 20 or so key markets. Its most recent deal, subject to final approval, is the proposed purchase of VIA Travel, one of the largest independent TMCs in Scandinavia. Egencia also services its global client base through the Egencia Global Alliance (EGA) – partner agencies that act as its agent, giving a presence in 47 countries. Peymirat explains that the decision whether to buy or partner depended on whether “the market has potential for growth and whether there is an appetite for technology-based solutions. So for Scandinavia, the answer would be yes. But markets such as Bulgaria, South Korea and Morocco are better served through the EGA.” Travelocity Business instead uses members of the Radius consortium to service the local needs of its international clients, with Portman Travel its partner in the UK. Karmis says it was not actively seeking new business in Europe but it would do “at some point, but not in the near-term”. Sitting between the two is Orbitz
for Business, which uses the Orbitz. com platform to fulfil corporate bookings in markets where it has a presence, such as the UK and western Europe. Elsewhere, it uses members of the Globalstar alliance. The TMCs with a background in leisure travel are now part of the corporate space. And while it has taken a decade or so for them to become established, either by organic growth or by acquisition, the chances are they will start playing catch-up very soon as their core competency – technology – becomes a prerequisite for every part of the sector. ■