Worldspan will enhance its content for travel agencies and eCommerce sites by adding VFM’s distribution feed of still images and rich media for thousands of hotel properties.Worldspan becomes VFM’s first global distribution system (GDS) distribution partner.
“Using VFM, we’ll be able to provide our agency partners with a powerful source of visual marketing material supporting our hotel partners,” says Ninan Chacko, senior vice president of eCommerce and product planning for Worldspan. “They’ll be able to provide content such as videos or virtual tours to their clients directly from Trip Manager XE and, in the future, from the agency’s desktop tools, enabling agents to provide superior value to their customers.”
The Worldspan-VFM partnership will be first brought to life in an update to Trip Manager XE, which Worldspan is previewing at the NBTA conference in San Diego, August 14th to 17th. Trip Manager XE is marketed through Worldspan’s travel agency partners and allows business travelers to self-book their travel directly. As a result of the VFM-Worldspan partnership, Trip Manager XE users will get to see and experience amenities and features of the hotel properties through the integration of VFM’s pictures, videos and virtual tours.
Worldspan is also planning to integrate VFM’s rich media into its other tools available to travel agency and eCommerce sites.
” Worldspan is already recognized as the leader in airline fares and pricing and eCommerce distribution technology,” continued Chacko, “By partnering with VFM, we are continuing to be on the forefront of providing value-added services and content to our customers.”
VFM sees Worldspan’s decision as an innovative move that may well be followed by others. “The internet has changed the playing field, affecting how travel is sold both online and offline, “says Paolo Boni, CEO and President of VFM. “We’re delighted that Worldspan has taken a leadership role in the GDS industry. No question, travel agents need to have at their fingertips marketing material that is as good as, if not better, than consumers can find themselves.”
Certainly, 2005 has become the tipping point for rich media as broadband penetration now outnumbers dial-up access in American homes. Advertisers are recognizing the growing consumer demand for video as technology allows for near-instant load times, turning a computer screen practically into a TV screen. According to a new study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, rich media spending will “climb from $36.7 billion 2005 to $54.2 billion in 2009.” Quoted in AdAge, Peter Petrusky, PricewaterhouseCooper’s Director of Advisory Services who provided expertise on the study’s internet section explained, “People now expect speed and rich media online.”
Just as hotels have begun to embrace this thinking, Worldspan’s partnership with VFM indicates other important players in travel are as well.