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ATA helps Chinese travel agencies forge the future

Beena Samuel

Key Accounts, Networks, Consolidator and Consortia - North America, Amadeus

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ATA Travel Consortium co-owners Allan Sum (l) and Kenneth Sum (r)

This year may have started with frosty US-China trade relations making headlines. Yet the heat is rising with Amadeus partner  ATA Travel Consortium, a premier distributor of Amadeus travel technology solutions to Chinese and multi-ethnic travel agencies across Canada and the US.

ATA recently re-signed a multi-year agreement with Amadeus, expanding the company’s North American presence in Canada to US cities including Los Angeles, New York and several other Asian metro areas. “Since 2015, we’ve experienced double-digit growth,” says Allan Sum, co-owner of the company with his brother, Kenneth Sum. “We project reaching 700 North American locations in 2019, with high hopes for the US market, which is 10 times bigger than Canada.

According to Sum, ATA plays a key role in advancing travel across the North American ethnic landscape. “For small to medium size agencies, technology is key. Our technology partnership with Amadeus is where ATA brings the greatest value.”

Revving up China’s growth engine

Last year, more than 131 million Chinese tourists traversed the globe, spending around $115 billion overseas. According to Destination Canada, China was Canada’s largest source of tourist arrivals from the Asia-Pacific region, logging a record 682,000 Chinese visitors in 2017, up 12% over the prior year. By 2021, the US National Travel and Tourism Office projects China will become the third-largest inbound market, sending some 5.7 million visitors to US destinations. Reuters cites Las Vegas, New York City and Los Angeles as top destinations for Chinese visitors.

Over the next decade, Sum predicts Chinese travelers’ desire for experiences, spending and accommodations will reshape not only the North American tourism industry, but the global landscape as well. How will ATA support this influx of business from China and the Asia-Pacific region? “Technology,” says Sum. “Our mission is to equip our member travel agencies with the technology they need to succeed in today’s highly competitive travel market.”

Game-changing technology

Here are four ways the ATA-Amadeus partnership is helping Chinese and ethnic agencies create brighter futures for themselves and their travelers:

  1. Technology to sell more content. ATA gives member agencies private access to Amadeus Selling Platform Connect, enabling them to attend to customers anytime, anywhere, from any device. Solutions like private label mobile apps connect travelers with their agencies, offering trip-critical information and peace of mind.
  2. Personalized customer support. ATA’s multi-language support team assists member agencies in their own languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu and more. ATA also leverages the training resources in Amadeus Learning Universe to help agents improve their productivity and proficiency.
  3. Technology to optimize processes and reduce costs. One of a business owner’s highest costs is labor. Amadeus products and solutions include tools to store travel information, implement changes based on customer preferences, and access itineraries. Amadeus technology uses robotics for manual processes like issuing tickets and making exchanges, saving on manpower costs. As a result, agencies can strategically grow their businesses without making unnecessary labor investments.
  4. Technology to sell the world. The Amadeus Travel Platform delivers the air, car, hotel, insurance and tour content that small to medium size agencies can leverage to drive revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and deliver exceptional service.

The next frontier

Sum says the future looks bright for North American agencies serving today’s ethnic travelers. “I view it as a healthy dynamic when travelers go online to do their homework, and then work with a travel professional to book the trip. Buyers want control over their decisions, so it’s important to go online, check reviews and social media, and research options. Yet they still want to speak with someone who can offer expertise, help and advice. On the travel agent’s side, the buyer’s ‘advance’ research actually saves time and moves along the sale faster. There’s definitely room for both.”

“We’ve partnered with Amadeus since 2004 and look forward to the future,” concludes Sum. “We are very happy with Amadeus’ innovative technology and support. At the end of the day, it’s the people at Amadeus who make our partnership work. Yes, we may be in the travel business, but we’re also in the relationship business. And no one appreciates the personal touch more than the Chinese traveler.”

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