Travelport says travel agencies have a future – but one that is likely to see them operate in a vastly different way to how they do now.
The comments from the company’s president and CEO, Gordon Wilson, came during a discussion to coincide with its 2016 third quarter financial results this week.
Wilson says travel agencies will have a role to play in the research and shopping of travel products, as they have for decades, but the processes and technology they use will be “fundamentally different”.
In particular, Wilson points to the rise of artificial intelligence-led tech to help brands communicate and handle many of the functions they currently have to use when dealing with customers.
He says the operations of a travel agent “will eventually be, in many parts, completely automated” by the implementation of new AI technology.
Travelport’s role in this new world will be assured, he says, as the company looks to grow non-GDS elements of its business (in particular, mobile services, through its acquisition on MTT in 2015).
Responding generally to recent comments from the boss of Emirates and a paper released by IATA about the future of distribution and the GDSs, Wilson maintains that distribution is “expected to evolve, but it will not be a revolution”.
Airlines will need to connect to intermediaries in various ways and each will have different requirements and processes – meaning companies such as Travelport, he says, will continue to have an important position in an ecosystem that needs technology to allow customers to “shop and buy multiple products”.
The company posted revenue for the third quarter of 2016 at $591 million, up 6% on the same period in the previous year, with 2016 so far coming in at $1.81 billion (up 7% on the first nine months of 2015).
Adjusted EBITDA during Q3 was $150 million, a jump of 15% y/y. EBITDA for the reported first three-quarters of 2016 is $444 million, an increase of 9% y/y.
Travelport’s Beyond Air revenues hit $152 million (up 18% y/y) in Q3, compared to those for the company’s air business on the travel commerce platform which increased by 2% y/y to $408 million.
Technology services made $31 million in Q3 (down 3% y/y).
Travelport’s US and Latin America & Canada revenues on the platform fell by 2% and 3% respectively, but Asia-Pacific and Europe increased by 10% and 14%.
See original article at https://www.tnooz.com/article/travelport-q3-2016-earnings/