Travelport GDS and Microsoft Inc. are collaborating on the development of a new set of integrated services for travelers, suppliers and travel agents, slated for introduction in the first quarter.
Beckie Watson, vice president of new business development for Travelport GDS, said the services will provide travelers with a "personalized journey" via an end-to-end application that spans all channels and devices and is "always with them."
The services will allow travelers to "take control" when travel is disrupted by cancellations or delays, she said. They also will allow suppliers to deliver options to the traveler through "more touch points."
Watson said the new services leverage mobile technology to enable suppliers to push out more options to travelers. She said the new services also will leverage "assets that Travelport acquired from G2 Switchworks," the company that tried to develop an alternative to traditional GDSs. Geoff Cairns, worldwide managing director of hospitality for Microsoft, said the collaboration has "two dimensions: to provide the environment and the tools for a highly connected experience for the traveler and to give suppliers the ability to create experiences that differentiate themselves."
For example, a customer may be on a delayed flight but cannot take action because she is in the air. The new services would send alerts to her hotel and car rental company. If a missed connection is involved, the airline would search for new options before the customer lands.
If the traveler is sharing a car with a colleague at the destination, the service would send an e-mail or text message to alert the colleague of the traveler's status. Some of the services are reminiscent of the "personal assistant" technology used by companies such as TripIt or Rearden Commerce.
Cairns noted that some pieces of the Travelport-Microsoft vision have been addressed by other companies, but he added, "With Travelport's booking and merchandising we are pulling it all together into a comprehensive travel flow that feels a lot more connected. "Think of your worst travel nightmare," he said. "You think, 'If they could only have done this and if only they had done that.' It's an integration problem."
The Travelport-Microsoft collaboration, he said, will address those issues "in a meaningful way that gives suppliers marketing opportunities and the ability to turn a potentially ugly situation into an opportunity."