Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Aug. 2, 2007

SKYTEAM MEMBERS Delta, Continental and Northwest launched the first jointly sponsored corporate travel Web site with G2 SwitchWorks as the ARC-accredited travel agency and Amadeus as the GDS. Targeted toward small- and medium-size corporations, SkyCorp Direct, at www.skycorpdirect.com, enables travelers at U.S. points of sale to book the three airlines for free through G2, to book other airlines for a $5 booking booking fee, and to access hotels and car inventory through Amadeus. In a press briefing by the three airlines for Travel Weekly at the National Business Travel Association conference in Boston last month, officials stated that they intend to migrate customers from their existing corporate sites to SkyCorpDirect.com as they attempt to tap into the small- and medium-size corporate market of unmanaged or lightly managed travel programs. Continental intends to phase out its Business Travel Manager program in about 90 days while Northwest and Delta intend to continue operating CorpNet Direct and Exclusive Discount Program, respectively, for small business in tandem with SkyCorpDirect.com, officials said. SkyCorpDirect.com, which launched without publicity on June 20, uses Amadeus e-Travel Management as the foundation for its corporate self-booking technology.

 

MORE ON THE CORPORATE SIDE

" Expedia is looking for ways to bring traveler reviews and other user-generated content to its business travel site, Expedia Corporate Travel. According to officials at Expedia, the company is in the early stages of figuring out ways to bring user-generated content and networks to ECT clients in the U.S. One option under consideration would enable individual corporations that are ECT clients to establish their own networks through ECT where their employees could share their rants and raves about travel experiences, the company said.

" BookingBuilder Technologies renewed its agreement with Southwest, giving the agent-desktop provider access to the airline's online fares and the Swabiz corporate booking site. The two companies also said they would jointly develop an interface between Swabiz and corporate self-booking tools.

" Orbitz for Business has launched a self-managed travel site for businesses that spend less than $250,000 annually on travel. After small businesses go through a self-registration process, their travelers can book through Orbitz for Business. Orbitz said the new offering includes some features and benefits of Orbitz's larger managed programs, including access to corporate travel rates at no cost beyond the transaction fees. The Orbitz for Business self-managed site also offers dedicated site reporting, including monthly travel summaries; the tracking of the value and expiration dates of unused e-tickets; free online exchanges, cancellations and voids (airline-imposed fees may still apply); and a dedicated customer service line.

THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION gave antitrust clearance to Travelport's proposed acquisition of Worldspan, but the $1.4 billion deal still has to be approved by the European Commission. Travelport has stated that it intends to merge Worldspan into Galileo, one of its subsidiaries, to "establish a more effective and efficient travel distribution provider." A combined Worldspan-Galileo would also create the second-largest GDS firm in Europe, behind Amadeus. The E.C. is expected to conclude its inquiry by Sept. 13. For its part, Travelport said it was "optimistic that the pending E.C. approval would be concluded in time to permit the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2007." Travelport is also the parent of Orbitz Worldwide, Gullivers Travel Associates and other travel firms.

ON WALL STREET

" Orbitz Worldwide became a public company July 20, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol OWW. The company and its almost two dozen consumer brands, still controlled by Travelport, priced its common stock at $15 per share in an initial public offering. Orbitz Worldwide offered 34 million shares in the IPO. The $15 price was down from Orbitz Worldwide's previous estimate of $16 to $18 per share. None of the $475 million in net proceeds from the IPO will go to Orbitz Worldwide. The net proceeds, plus another $530 million in borrowings from a new senior secured credit agreement, will go to repay debt to Travelport and to pay a dividend to Travelport owners.

" Expedia Inc., which recently said it planned to spend up to $3.5 billion in a stock buyback, drastically scaled back that effort after market conditions changed. Expedia on July 23 reduced the number of shares in a tender offer by 78.6%, proposing instead to repurchase 25 million shares. The buyback price range would be the same as in the tender offer announced June 19, $27.50 to $30.

SABRE enhanced its GDS product to incorporate airlines' branded fares into agent displays. Agents, Sabre said, will be able to review fare attributes in the display and click to view summaries of the carrier's various fares. Sabre said it would announce details "in the coming weeks" about launch partners for the branded-fare solution.

Technology Editor: Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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