Rakesh Bansal, CEO, Amadeus India talks about the growth and development of the company as well as share his perspectives as how technological innovations are driving the travel and tourism growth
Amadeus India, wholly owned by Bird Group, has continuously been enhancing its online product offerings for the benefit of the travel industry. It has been developing both air and non-air products and solutions as per the needs and requirements of travel agency partners. Excerpts from Interview:
You have recently completed over two decades in India. How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been very successful. A lot of initiatives have been taken since the beginning. The way it started and the way it has evolved today where anyone can use Amadeus from anywhere anytime, from your mobiles, laptops, PCs. We have been a consistent market leader although. We have worked with top players such online, TMCs, consolidators, retailers, SMEs in the market place and we have been able to grow their business and grow together. Our market share is consistently been at 50 per cent and we are bigger than all other combined together in the market. We have consistently been growing our market share. Even at the global level, we have been continuously increasing our market share. There has been substantial growth in all fronts.
How are you better than your competitors?
Our main USP is technology. We are technologically most advanced system. We are the only GDS which are 100 per cent on open system which means we do not use or rely on any of the legacy systems. If a travel agency wants to use our system, they do not have to invest anything. We provide bandwidth on demand. Being an open system, we can scale upto the desired level overnight to cate to the requirements of our partners.
What are the major product developments in last 2-3 years?
Innovation and customer satisfaction remain the core building blocks of our travel solutions for the travel industry. First of all, we have the Amadeus web services which is considered the most reliable, accurate and very fast response. It is an Application Programming Interface (API) that delivers individual Amadeus functionalities via SOAP/XML messages and integrates travel-related functionalities into any application. We also have Amadeus Master Pricer technology that provides the cheapest bookable fares and the most convenient itineraries, over a wide choice of airlines in less than a second.
Is Amadeus also working on ancillary services for airlines?
We are moving into ancillary services for airlines in a big way. Globally, the need from the airlines is to increase the revenue on the ancillaries. Amadeus has partnered with airlines and developed specific programmes and solutions which make the sale of ancillaries on the Amadeus system very easy and fast. For travel agencies, it is additional source of revenue and it offers more choices and greater satisfaction to customers who can buy anything on a single click. Merchandising is growing faster. For some airlines it is growing quite fast. There are some airlines which use Amadeus merchandising solutions. Even Air India, LH, BA, Air France Groups, Emirates, Etihad to name a few have ancillaries available on the Amadeus system.
The Govt recently launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) to connect tier-II & III cities. How Amadeus India is going to tap this potential?
Amadeus India is one of the largest GDSs in the country. We have the network of 45 offices all across which we are further expanding in tier II and III cities. So all the smaller cities which are coming up under RCS, either we already have offices or we will expand to cater to the need of the travel agencies there to ensure that more travel agencies in those areas are connected to our system. Amadeus is reaching out to all nook and corners of the country.
Many airlines are going directly to consumer and put a nominal fee if the booking is done through GDSs. How do you see the future of GDSs?
GDSs have always been very efficient distribution system for the airlines across the world. And, airlines have always been having the direct presence on their websites. This is nothing new. It is airlines prerogative to choose a distribution channel which they want and everybody want to maximize the reach of the distribution channel. What we can say is Amadeus is one of the most efficient distribution channels available to airlines and it brings to them a lot of reach.
Moreover, booking tickets is not the only value proposition for Amadeus. We provide a lot of ancillary services to airlines like back office system, automated workforce, quality control, and so are a lot of additions that Amadeus is providing apart from airlines content which help the travel agencies to do their work faster. If certain function can be automated through GDS, then it brings more productivity.
Are disruptors creating value additions to GDSs?
There are a lot of new players coming into the market. Some of them use the GDS’s services especially on the flight side. On the hotel side, currently GDSs are also evolving to new requirements. Traditionally, the non-air content at GDSs was in much smaller percentage. With the advent of new players on the hotel, GDSs have also upgraded on hotels. In fact, there is an uptake on hotel bookings on GDSs.
What is the share of air and non-air content at Amadeus India?
Air is definitely much higher and predominant. On hotel front, Amadeus has launched the new booking programme ‘Amadeus Hotel Plus’ that enables content directly from hotels as well as from aggregators. This brings wider reach to hotels and hotel aggregators and we have now a lot of aggregators on Amadeus now. I would say 85 to 90 per cent of the hotel content which is available on these platforms is also available on Amadeus. We have tied up with hotels and aggregators.
How are you creating awareness about your products in tier II and III cities?
Amadeus has very defined and established training programmes where we keep on educating our travel agencies about new technologies, products, entries, functionalities. We also have an IATA certified institute. When e-ticketing was introduced in India, Amadeus trained almost 50,000 CISF personnel to make them learn about how to read and validate the ticket.
How many LCCs are coming on Amadeus India’s platform?
We are talking to them. We explain to them our value proposition. We hope that they will be joining our system in near future. Globally, we have a lot of LCCs on our platform. We will continue to enhance our services and grow with industry.