Earlier this month, Amadeus appointed Angel Gallego as the new president of Amadeus Asia-Pacific, replacing David Brett, who had been with Amadeus for 23 years. Here Breaking Travel News sits down with Gallego to find out what his plans and priorities are as he settles into his new role.
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations on your new appointment, can you comment on this new role?
Angel Gallego: David Brett has done a fantastic job here in the region and I have some big shoes to fill! Asia Pacific is an extremely interesting region; the different cultures, people and economies will make it an exciting and enriching experience. I look forward to travelling around Asia Pacific, getting to know our customers and learning about the intricacies of their business. I am also looking forward to the challenge of uncovering how Amadeus can achieve more in this region.
BTN: What will be your key priorities as you settle into the role?
AG: The most important thing for me is to really understand our customers’ priorities in Asia Pacific. I plan to travel intensively and hope to get to know the different markets as quickly as possible.
BTN: Can you discuss some of the key corporate travel trends that were recently highlighted at the Asia Pacific Corporate Travel Network event?
AG: While I personally didn’t attend the event, the conversations that my colleagues had with the corporate travel managers in attendance revealed two key things – firstly, the general consensus that corporate travel is increasing across Asia Pacific; and secondly, the need to strike a balance between catering to travellers’ needs and keeping corporate travel costs low.
BTN: What have been the most exciting developments for Amadeus in the Asia Pacific region so far this year?
AG: We were very proud to sign SriLankan Airlines as the first airline group in the Indian subcontinent to adopt Amadeus’ Altéa IT suite earlier this year. The airline will use Amadeus to modernise its passenger processes. EVA Air was the first airline in Asia to implement our Altéa Revenue Management solution to drive maximum revenue returns across their full network.
We also signed content agreements with a number of LCCs including Jetstar and today we have 70 low cost carriers bookable via the Amadeus system. We joined forces with AirAsia to launch Amadeus LCC Smart – a new booking tool specifically designed for low-cost airlines – and we will continue to explore ways to support LCCs’ growth and rapid expansion throughout Asia Pacific and globally, and at the same time provide travel agents with a simple and effective way to book LCC content for their customers.
We launched Amadeus Travel Office Manager (ATOM) Mobile, the first ever mid-office system mobile application for travel agencies. With ATOM Mobile, we help travel agencies improve operational efficiency and provide better service to their customers.
BTN: What key message/s has Amadeus taken home from the WTTC Asia Summit?
AG: There was one resoundingly dominant message from the Summit speakers – the exponential growth expected from Asia Pacific. Over the next 10 years, the travel and tourism industry in Asia will expand by over 6 percent year-on-year which is faster than any other region in the world. Of the 70 million new jobs Travel & Tourism will stimulate globally by 2023, two thirds – some 47 million - will be in Asia. We are witnessing a distinct shift in power from west to east and it’s an exciting time to be part of that growth in the region.
BTN: In what ways is technology driving change in Asia?
AG: New technology is being adopted faster here in Asia than anywhere else, and is opening up new ways for travel providers to deliver a more seamless and personalised travel experience. Take mobile for example. With 89 out of 100 people in Asia Pacific now owning mobile phones , travel companies can now interact with their customers throughout the travel life cycle, delivering information and services that provide a simpler, quicker and more comfortable travel experience. Airlines are no longer limited to interacting with customers at the airport or on-board the aircraft. Today, they can provide real-time updates to the passengers to enhance the overall customer experience.
BTN: How have Asian consumers responded to new ways of organising their trips?
AG: Mobile devices are increasingly being used as part of the overall travel experience, with 40% of business travellers and 25% of leisure travellers in Asia Pacific now routinely using these devices for travel-related arrangements and bookings . When we look at the entire travel lifecycle – from pre-trip to post-trip – we see that mobile has an impact at each stage. Travellers are planning and booking trips at home, checking-in and purchasing merchandise at the airport, connecting and sharing experiences with family and friends while on the road – all while using smartphones or tablets. You just have to look around any airport to see how mobile has changed travel.
BTN: What are consumers’ expectations when booking travel?
AG: With a rapid uptake of new technologies, especially in Asia, come greater expectations are placed on travel service providers. When booking through a travel agent, for example, not only will customers expect speed and efficiency, they will expect a higher level of customer service and for the agent to provide added value that cannot be experienced elsewhere. Both travel providers and intermediaries will need to act as more of a consultant. Social media and mobile will become increasingly important channels for travel providers to transact and interact with travellers.
There is also a substantial group of travellers who do not have a destination in mind when searching for travel. This group of travellers is eager for new ways to determine where to go and what to buy.
That is why we launched Amadeus Extreme Search and Amadeus Featured Results for air travel. These solutions allow travellers to search easily in the same way they think, at the same time offering personalised recommendations and exciting travel ideas, all based on the traveller’s unique interests.
BTN: How can organisations stay ahead of tomorrow when the technology landscape is changing so quickly?
AG: Increasingly, our customers look to Amadeus to provide more than technology solutions, and help to identify and solve industry challenges.This has required constant innovation and a lot of investment. Since 2004, we have invested more than €2.5 billion in Research and Development (R&D), and this commitment to R&D means that our customers enjoy some of the most advanced, integrated and powerful tools available in the market.
But technology isn’t only about providing new tools. In Asia Pacific, we work in partnership with our customers to really understand their businesses, their challenges and their needs, so that we can develop customised and customer-focused solutions. This is what ultimately sets them (and us) apart from the competition, and helps us stay ahead of the trend curve.
BTN: What are your predictions for the Asian travel landscape over the next five years from a tech perspective?
AG: We can expect to see within the next five years a full suite of exciting new technologies to emerge, such as:
• Automatic transit: Checking-in could become the exception rather than the norm, with the rise of faster and more efficient identity management systems. Chips, biometrics, long range fingerprinting and near field communications (NFC) can be deployed in a more integrated way to fast-forward how people move around.
• Intelligent recommendation: As technologies make it easier for people to tag and review all aspects of travel experiences, travellers will be more influenced by peer groups and expert curators. The prospect of personal travel guides and mobile tour representatives will give travellers the tools they need to enrich their experience.
• Payment with memory: All data on payments made before and during a trip will be integrated, acting as a digital memory of expenditure and activity for individuals, groups and travel industry operators. Intelligent passenger records, ‘digital breadcrumbs’ and contactless technologies could be used to personalise and bundle services delivering higher value and more profitable relationships.