Madrid to Sevilla in under two hours and a half, Paris to Frankfurt in under four or Rome to Milan in under three? All centre to centre, with good legroom and wi-fi? It is actually possible - and anyone who travels in Europe will know they have high-speed rail to thank. But for the novice rail traveller, booking these fares abroad could be overwhelming, or not even an obvious option in the first place. For travel agencies, a costly and complicated setup has got in the way of selling international rail. And for railways, this has meant being left in second place by the international traveller.
But it’s now time to go global. A new business model proposed by Amadeus can bring down borders, attract foreign travellers and drive new revenues for railways and travel agencies.
The merchant model provides travel agencies around the world with one link to sell multiple railways, bypassing the need for one-to-one commercial relationships between both parties. With just one interface and one sales system, the model makes it much easier for travel agencies to sell rail products. Currently the full offers of DB (German), RENFE (Spanish), SNCF (French, available in CESE* only), Trenitalia (Italian) and select eastern European rail operators are available as part of this model, with more expected to join soon.
Amadeus acts as a sales agent for rail operators to simplify contractual agreements, financial flows and invoicing with travel agencies. This will mean reduced costs for railways as Amadeus takes care of all setup, billing and settlement activities, and assumes financial and legal risks of selling via travel agencies. The model will enable railways to reach new travellers in new markets as Amadeus takes care of promoting their offer to travel agencies too.
“Rail travel today is still largely domestic but this will soon change – our merchant model marks the beginning of a new era, giving the industry what it needs to take a global leap, and unlock growth. For travel agencies this will mean a convenient gateway to leading rail content that will serve to enrich their overall offer” said Antoine de Kerviler, Global Head of Rail & Ground Travel at Amadeus.
Foreign travellers can conveniently book rail travel through their travel agency before flying and have their entire trip – including air, hotel and rail – on the same itinerary.
Antoine continued, “I am confident that rail will be on the radar of many more travellers now and as it becomes more and more accessible to them – just imagine booking rail the same way as air, all integrated in a single itinerary – it will get the attention it deserves. We look forward to adding more rail operators across all continents in the coming months.”
“The merchant model combines Deutsche Bahn's market leading transport services with the technological power of Amadeus. With this new agreement Deutsche Bahn vastly extends its global network.” says Ronn Kostecki, Project Manager at Deutsche Bahn. “We will improve the availability of our tickets to all travel agencies, particularly those with a wide travel offer” he continues.
“The new agreement with Amadeus will let Trenitalia increase its global reach in an exponential way. It will be much easier for travel agencies, no matter their size, to distribute our products and let travellers from all around the world move across Italy by train, which in the last years has become one of the most pleasant and convenient ways to travel to top Italian destinations” comments Alessandra Bucci, Commercial Director of Long Haul Passenger Division at Trenitalia. “Moreover, this is a further step towards our ambitious project of offering our customers an integrated travel solution, covering their trip door-to-door in Italy”.
* Central, Eastern and Southern Europe