Thursday, April 06, 2006

Globalization of Travel Software

On Monday evening I returned from a week in Europe visiting two clients. These meetings reinforced my belief that all segments of the travel industry are evolving to be more global in nature. Despite this fact, the trip reinforced the need for travel software vendors to understand and adapt to regional and country specific requirements. It is my belief that the level of online travel adoption is the key metric to watch in determining the maturity of a given market and related strategies. As consumers embrace online travel, the traditional infrastructure of distribution becomes strained. The recent announcement by the Star Alliance airline group regarding the alternate distribution strategy driven by Lufthansa Systems Group and Farelogix mirrors the growing adoption of online travel in Europe. Another example of the inability to implement a single solution globally can be found in the corporate travel self-booking tool market. Even though vendors such as Amadeus have been pushing a single self-booking tool as the solution to global travel management, few global corporations have implemented the same tool in all locations. Other examples of the fallacy of overlooking individual market needs while developing global strategies manifested itself in the problems experienced by Cendant in trying to integrate e-Bookers into their family of online sites. E-bookers was created to address a specific regional niche (long haul ethnic travel) and thus was not easily integrated into the broader Cendant B to C family. The bottom line is that global aspirations are great, global implementations are extremely difficult. Despite our ability to instantly communicate in real-time to any place on the globe, cultural and local issues are still a major factor in implementing travel software products or services on a global basis.

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Another example of the inability to implement a single solution globally can be found in the corporate travel self-booking tool market.

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