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  • Provide value-added travel services - An interview with Gordon Wilson, President and CEO (International Markets), Cendant Travel Distribution Services. (Posted on 11/03/2006)

Gordon Wilson, president and CEO (International Markets), Cendant Travel Distribution Services, part of $18-billion Cendant Corporation, spoke on how its technology solutions will help travel intermediaries to deliver better service and enhance their business.

How important is the Indian market for Cendant?
India is an important strategic market that offers excellent growth opportunity for all of our businesses. We plan to continue utilizing India's excellent IT and BPO resources to support our global technology platforms and customer services. We will leverage our technology to deliver more content to the travel agent. Apart from driving an increasing number of international travelers to India, we plan to offer enhanced solutions to Indian hotel groups.

Galileo India, Cendant's Global Distribution System, is estimated to occupy 36.9% market share in India - one out of every three travel transactions out of India takes place on Cendant. India currently contains 28% of all Galileo terminals in Asia.

Going forward, we plan to target the retail and leisure market with Galileo Leisure that will be rolled out in April. Through Galileo Leisure we will be integrating the entire inventory of Gulliver's Travel Associates. The inventory being offered will include 23,000 hotels, 3,000 car rental locations, 3,000 apartments and villas, 2,500 transfers. Galileo Leisure offers flexibility for each individual market to meet the content demands of the agents of that particular market.

How sustainable is the India growth story in the travel business?
India offers huge growth opportunities with the travel and tourism demand estimated to grow by 10.9% over 2006-15. There are more travelers within Asia than those traveling from Asia to Europe and America. The intra-Asia travel market was around 105-million strong in '04. In comparison, around 33 million are traveling to and fro between Europe and Asia and around 17 million travel between Asia and Americas. Within America itself the intra-travel was worth around 94 million.

Coming to India, the entire GDS market grew by 21% in 2005. This growth has come riding on the demand created by India's growing middle class population. Going forward, we can expect exponential growth in travel business in India. Average air trips per citizen per annum in the US was 2.2 in 2004, on a base of 285-million strong population. The figure was 1 for EU with a population of 350 million. However in the case of India, this figure is just 0.02 with population over 1 billion. India has just 178 aircraft in 2004 while the figure for the US was 6,537.

How does that translate into increasing Cendant's investments in India?
Cendant in India has presence in hospitality, car rental, travel distribution and development of technology solutions and supporting our global back-end services. We are present in India through eBookers and Interglobe Technologies. We have leveraged India's prowess in the IT space for developing a passenger reservations system for low-cost carriers, in association with a Trivandrum-based IT company. We hope to double India head-count over the next five years.

With travel distribution companies like Cendant offering end-to-end solutions, are the days of travel agents offering vanilla services numbered?
For travel agents, the days of making money only through selling of tickets is gone. They have to sell experiences and add value to the experiences of travelers. What is important for travel agents is to look for ways to go further up the value chain. In fact, Cendant with its product portfolio is in a position to help them grow. We plan to increase or interaction with travel agents to protect the long-term growth of the travel industry.

Global distribution systems like Galileo are increasingly aggregating air and non-air content like hotel packages, car rentals on their platform. This helps travel agents to offer full services, thereby increasing the value they bring and the revenues they can drive. As a result travel agents become less reliant on traditional commissions as their source of income. Courtesy Economic Times

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