TOWARD Europe, a pioneering organisation created to maximise the commercial success of travel industry companies by optimising distribution through industry-wide agreement on best use of technology, has announced its launch today.
The pan-European organisation, established in response to the evolving needs of the European travel industry - a sector anticipated to be worth EUR239 billion by 2006 - will improve electronic distribution and fulfilment of tour operator product to agents and consumers by identifying, agreeing and publishing necessary business processes and standards.
Tasked with addressing the issues faced by tour operators in today`s dynamic travel market, TOWARD Europe`s membership comprises major forces from across the European travel industry, including 22 tour operator, supplier, and travel technology companies, such as Amadeus, Cosmos, Eurostar, Hertz Europe and RWA.
A second-phase of recruitment targeting European tour operators and other travel industry companies is underway, and the organisation has established a dedicated hotline to deal with membership enquiries.
Alister Beveridge, Group IT director of Cosmos, is named as
acting-chairman, and is part of a seven-strong management committee of directors that will drive the organisation`s development in the market. Voted for by members, TOWARD Europe`s executive comprises a cross-section of top-level industry representatives - also from Accor, Amadeus, Boscolo, Hertz Europe, RWA and Travel 2 - whose skills base covers sales, marketing, technology and business development.
TOWARD Europe has also established two working groups, `Travel Supplier to Tour Operator` and `Tour Operator to Distribution Channel`, whose combined goal is to address the issues faced by tour operators and so optimise the travel industry`s entire distribution chain - from suppliers to agents and the end consumer. These groups comprise travel executives who collectively represent an unrivalled concentration of industry knowledge.
Annual conferences and complementary events, exclusive to the organisation`s membership, will bring together keynote speakers to tackle the industry`s most pressing issues, provide an opportunity to discuss developments in the travel industry, and allow extensive feedback from TOWARD Europe`s working groups.
Alister Beveridge, acting-chairman of TOWARD Europe, commented: “The travel market is one the world`s biggest investors in technology. TOWARD Europe`s aim is to secure industry-wide agreement on how we adopt IT in order to improve distribution.”
He added: “To launch with the backing of some of the industry`s most established names demonstrates our intent to achieve lasting change through agreement at the top level on the best use of distribution technology.”
In November 2002, companies from across the travel industry formed an agreement in principal to establish TOWARD Europe, with the organisation officially launching to the travel sector in April 2003 with the unveiling of a management committee and working groups.
TOWARD Europe will also recruit a president from one of Europe`s major tour operating groups.
The organisation aims to emulate the success of its North American counterpart TOWARD, which launched in March 2001 and has a membership of over 75 leading travel companies.
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