Content fragmentation: the most pressing issue in travel distribution today

Jorge Elliott

EVP of Travel Content Sourcing, Travel Channels, Amadeus

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The first known reference to “content is king” is from an essay that Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates wrote in 1996 to describe the future of the internet as a marketplace for content. This saying rings especially true to me. 

As the head of the Travel Content Sourcing team of our Travel Channels business, my team and I are dedicated to driving Amadeus’ strategy of bringing all relevant travel content into the Amadeus Travel Platform and making that content available to Amadeus-connected travel sellers. We're committed to working with our colleagues and different travel players (airlines, hotels, railways companies, car rentals, and others) to source the most exciting content for our travel agents, corporations and travelers around the world.

The overwhelming array of content

Consumers are flooded with options for just about anything. When you’re looking for a gift for your loved one, you can go to the local market, your favorite store, a shopping center, an online store or a larger e-commerce platform where you can compare different brands and different offers. 

With so many options, the best bet for any great retailer trying to get the attention of the consumer is to be everywhere, be that online or offline. 

When it comes to the travel industry, the same concept applies. 

At Amadeus, we want to help travelers get the best deal for them, no matter where they shop. But as those of us in the industry know, this is certainly easier said than done – especially when we’re experiencing a fundamental change to the way in which travel is sold and how the traveler is served.

Today’s travelers are smart, tech-savvy consumers looking for unique experiences at the click of a button. They are demanding the same level of choice, personalized service and consistency across channels and devices so they can compare and choose their preferred option.

The increasing fragmentation across the industry

Whilst the complex myriad of possibilities provides a huge opportunity for travel providers and sellers it is also creating one of the most important issues in the travel industry at the moment: content fragmentation.  

We have all gone through the experience of having purchased an airfare in one place, booked the hotel in another, rented a car in a third and so on. And of course, this is not counting the services at the destination, such as transfers and attractions. 

This is not just a reality for travelers alone. It’s a reality for many travel agencies too. 

The challenge is aggregating and normalizing travel content from multiple sources so it can be searched and compared by travel sellers and travelers. This is what will ensure travel agents and travelers around the world have the variety and transparency they expect and deserve.

Content fragmentation is also affecting the travel agents’ ability to serve their travelers quickly and efficiently, while having the confidence they are truly offering the best option to their customer. 

Our goal is to resolve the issue of content fragmentation across the industry so that travel agencies can continue to access a full range of travel offers in one platform, without the need for more expensive and less scalable alternatives. 

At the same time, we want to develop the best vehicle for airlines, hotels, rail and car rental providers, and any other travel provider, to distribute their products however they wish. Like all digital retailers, these providers need to create customized retail experiences that inspire customers across all touchpoints. 

The response to content fragmentation: Amadeus Travel Platform

This is precisely why we are evolving our Travel Platform. We’re working with our travel agency customers to identify what new content they need, we're working with our travel provider customers to source this content, and then offering all of the content, regardless of how that content is sourced, all on the one platform. For airline content, this means sourcing via traditional technology such as EDIFACT, as well as, NDC and other APIs.

With regards to NDC, we’re already working closely with airlines, travel sellers, and other industry players via our NDC-X program to ensure there are clear standards and it works for all travel players. We’re excited to begin the deployment phase of our NDC-enabled solutions, so our travel seller customers can access and book fares through an NDC connectivity in their familiar working environment and, importantly, side-by-side all other content in the Amadeus Travel Platform.

Even with all the talk and the excitement with NDC, the primary source of content for travel sellers for the next few years will continue to be through traditional technology. Actually, we imagine a world where NDC and traditional technology such as EDIFACT will sit alongside each other for many years to come.

But the type of technological language used to source the content really shouldn’t matter to our customers. As long as we can gather travel content from all sources, normalize that content and make it available in one place for travel agencies, then we will deliver a better experience for all our agency customers.

The Amadeus Travel Platform will allow travel sellers to offer a complete and personalized experience for their customers, eliminating frustrations with multiple points of sale and increasing security and satisfaction with each transaction. And when it comes to creating content, we’re also looking at the possibilities that ‘virtual interlining’ holds for the future. This allows travel sellers to provide a combination of a low-cost carrier with a full-service carrier to achieve more content, choice and fares.

As we work with the industry to reduce the issue of content fragmentation, we will continue to explore even more ways to deliver on traveler expectations across the whole journey. We’re confident that with close collaboration of all travel players in the industry, and the right technology, we will be able to create a better experience for travelers at every point of their trip.

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This is the first blog post of our Amadeus Travel Platform series where we’ll talk in detail about all the changes we’re making to bring the richest content to our community of travel agents, corporations and travelers. 

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Travel sellers, Live Travel Space, GDS, Travel Platform, NDC