Six months after Greg Webb became CEO of Travelport in August 2019,
Covid-19 emerged to wreak havoc on the travel industry, bringing many
elements of it to a standstill.
But Travelport has been plowing ahead with changes, offloading
businesses including Locomote and eNett, rebranding the company and
launching Travelport+ as a single environment to replace its legacy
systems, Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan.
all of these changes is a vision the company describes as “reinventing
travel retailing” and positioning Travelport to be “the best
multi-source content aggregator in the world.”
week at Travelport’s “Future of Retail” customer event in Dubai,
PhocusWire sat down with Webb to find out more about the company’s
plans, including how the company is looking to grow and thoughts on
topics including NDC, hospitality and innovation.
I think we have to start with the topic of the war in
Ukraine. Travelport, along with Sabre and Amadeus, has removed
Aeroflot’s fares from its system. How are you evaluating next steps as
far as your business in Russia?
operate directly in Russia so our first concern was, are all of our
employees safe? Secondly we operate through an operator in Ukraine, and
we were equally concerned about the employees of our operator.
I was shocked and appalled at the actions Russia has taken against
Ukraine. It’s horrific. The decision we made is we didn’t want to
support any state-owned entity. At the same time, we also didn’t want to
hurt the people of Russia or the people of Ukraine by any action we
took unilaterally, because it’s clear that this war is not a war of the
entire country of Russia; it’s the war of maybe a single man or a small
group inside Russia.
As an example, we’ve tried to support the booking of non-state owned
entities, because what we’ve seen is a significant increase in one-way
flights out of Russia to other places. We don’t want to keep people from
leaving Russia if they are trying to get out. So I think it’s an
evolving situation, and we’ll have to continue to monitor the direction
this goes. And obviously we’re on the side of humanity, so whatever it
takes to help people more broadly, we’re willing to do.
Travelport CMO Jen Catto talked about a recent survey the
company conducted that found consumers still find shopping for travel
very complex and frustrating. Part of the solution, she says, is
reinventing the PNR (Passenger Name Record) into an open system for
sharing itinerary data. Tell us more about that idea.
This is an industry that has built up, over time, the need to share
information. There’s almost no industry in the world that has a need to
share information more than travel.
If you think about interline agreements, codeshare agreements, the
fact that as a traveller, when you book a trip, the airline knows about
their part of it, the hotel knows about their part of it, the car rental
company knows about their part, the cruise line potentially knows about
their part — but none of them know about all of it. And so there’s a
need to be able to share that information across the network.
But today there’s a very intricate structure around how we share
information. Some of what’s happened with NDC (New Distribution
Capability) is pulling away from sharing information. It’s trying to
hold information more inside individual networks, which goes against
everything else you see on the internet, everything else that you see
happening in other evolving industries, which is more about opening up
the information-sharing capability of that network.
tend to believe that over time, because of consumer behavior, the need
to be more open with data and more available with the ability for
multiple parties to be able to access the same information on the same
platform will become more prevalent.
So what does that mean for NDC?
If NDC delivers on its promise, which was first to be a new standard,
a new way to do things, then it could be extraordinarily helpful.
Unfortunately, it’s almost the opposite of a standard. It’s been
implemented differently by almost every airline that has gone down an
If it delivers on the promise that it was supposed to, which is it
will allow airlines to better craft offers to the end traveller in a way
that’s consumable, bookable and personalisable in a different way so
that I get a different offer than you do on the same flight that has
benefits I desire as a traveller, I think that’s good. I think that will
allow consumers to make better buying choices. But until it delivers on
the idea of giving information that allows you to make a better a
buying choice, then it’s just adding complexity to the industry.
In the past, accommodation has been seen as a being a big driver of growth for Travelport – is that still the case?
We still see hospitality as both an opportunity for Travelport and
also where we have a competitive advantage with our rich content and
branding platform. We sell experience in the travel industry, and
hospitality is probably the one that is most differentiated, in terms of
the room, the amenities, the opportunity to cross sell, upsell.
There’s only so much you can do with an airline seat, but there’s a
lot you can do with a hotel room in terms of the experience and I think
that will continue to be something we focus on which is allowing
hoteliers to optimise their opportunity to sell based on the quality of
their offering, and that’s both on the business side and on the leisure
Source: Travel Weekly