Following a tremendously successful year, Worldspan has announced two key aims for 2001: first, to grow its position as the global market leader in e-commerce for the travel industry and second, to be recognised as a one-stop source for all travel-related Internet booking and management.
Worldspan’s recent management restructuring has underlined the company’s drive to increase its lead in the booming e-commerce market. With new lines of global responsibility drawn for its senior executives, electronic commerce has emerged as one of three lines of business the company will be concentrating on as it moves into the 21st Century. (The other two lines of business are Worldspan’s traditional reservations function and its services to airlines and travel suppliers.)
Paul J. Blackney, President and Chief Executive Officer for Worldspan, said: “Worldspan is already the global market leader in this field, handling over 50 per cent of all internet travel bookings over the Internet. In the EMEA region, e-business is ready to take off, providing the travel industry with fantastic opportunities. Worldspan has become the natural choice for companies seeking expertise in e-commerce because of our excellent reputation in the field and because we offer the best products.”
In the USA, Worldspan is the leading Internet transaction processor and within the EMEA region it is number one in the UK, Romania, France, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Denmark and Norway.
Worldspan’s credentials have made it the booking engine of choice for leading e-commerce companies around the world. At present these include Priceline, Expedia, Deckchair, Travel Select, Thomas Cook, Thomson Skydeals, E-Bookers, Dream Ticket and Travelbug, plus many more. In France, Worldspan has the top two sites - Nouvelles Frontiere and Degriftour - and in Germany, Anixe. Worldspan is also the booking engine behind the portals Lycos, Yahoo, AOL, Flug.de, LastMinute.com, PennyLane .com, and Skyways.
“In this field, Worldspan is simply the best, and although it might be a cliché, success breeds success,” said Mr. Blackney. “It is for this reason that we win so much Internet business.”
Whilst working closely with high profile companies that have come from outside the traditional travel industry, Worldspan continues to foster a partnership with the travel industry by developing products to help travel agents harness the power of the Internet for their own purposes.
Worldspan Go!SM Res via the Internet is a significant weapon available to travel agents in their battle to remain competitive in an increasingly technical world. And Worldspan’s strategic equity partnerships with companies that offer complementary and interlocking technology provide further unique products that agents and the consumer can harness for their needs.
Recent developments include Worldspan’s equity investment in XTRA On-Line, developers of the PowerTrip.com Internet-based corporate booking tool, as well as agreements with Motorola and NeoPoint to develop and deliver wireless travel information and booking capabilities to the marketplace.
The emergence this year of wireless-based devices such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phones and WAP-enabled Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) points the way toward a new way of working within the travel industry and a new way of delivering information to clients.
Worldspan has made sure it is at the heart of m-commerce developments though its own efforts in devising lines of product that can work within the new wireless format and also by strategic alliances with other specialist technology developers.
One such partnership is with QPAX.com whose core system collates real-time trip information such as flight status and weather conditions at departure, as well as personalised information on local restaurants, entertainment and attractions available at the traveller’s destination. The traveller can elect to receive the information via a PC or any Web-enabled wireless device, including mobile phone, pager and PDA.
Looking ahead to the future, Mr. Blackney said that the industry and the travelling public would soon be coming to grips with technology that predicted the way the consumer thinks, smart itineraries, ticket and voucher printers at home and the so-called Intelligent Shopping Booking Agent which will build complete packages, giving preferred content.
He added: “We see a time when agents will own their own hardware and network. Worldspan’s value will be in customisation as well as our booking system. This will give the client total flexibility. We know we must add, add and add value to win and keep the business.”
“With travel distribution coming to everyone’s home just booking air, car and hotel does not really add specific value anymore. Customers, consumers and agencies all want to go to one site or one agency screen and book air, car, hotel and rail, tour cruise, ferry, insurance, guest house, etc - now that’s adding value.”