Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Jan. 12, 2005

AMADEUS: Speculation about an Amadeus Worldspan merger resumed after a company with ties to Worldspan emerged as one of four bidders for a controlling stake in Amadeus. The airline owners of Amadeus appear to be on a fast track to sell a controlling stake in the company and recently received bids from private equity firms Citigroup Venture Capital Equity Partners (U.S.) , the Carlyle Group with Citigroup Venture Capital (Europe), Cinven Group and BC Partners. According to the Wall Street Journal Monday, Cinven and BC Partners teamed to present a new bid Sunday. Musings about an Amadeus-Worldspan marriage come because CVC U.S., along with Teachers' Merchant Bank, created the company that bought Worldspan from Northwest, Delta and American. One industry insider said that if CVC is the winning bidder, it "definitely 100%" would merge Amadeus and Worldspan. He added that Worldspan over the years has conducted detailed planning on how to merge its operations with Amadeus. "CVC didn't get what it wanted out of Worldspan given that the initial public offering failed," the source said. "The only way for CVC to capture the true value of both entities is to tie them together."

SIDESTEP launched a Web-based version of its travel-search engine. The idea is to whet consumers' appetites for travel search with the Web version, and then to transition consumers who want more functionality to the SideStep toolbar, which requires a download. The Web version, according to SideStep, "is both browser and platform independent." The lack of a Web-based platform, until now, was one factor in making it more difficult for SideStep to secure some major partnership deals.

2005 TRENDS: Now that Travel Port and Orbitz for Business are part of Cendant's Corporate Travel Solutions Group, they've put their heads together to formulate predictions for 2005 trends in corporate travel. Expect to see, according to their analysis, innovations in searching and booking on "portable thin-memory devices;" new services, including instant messaging, built into desktop applications; and corporate travel offerings will integrate new services, including travel data measurement tools, comprehensive event planning, international emergency services, and international phone rentals.

TRAMS integrated Passport Online's VacationPort e-mail marketing system into Trams' ClientBase customer relationship management system. With the integration, ClientBase users can better target clients with e-mail pitches that fit their interests, Trams said. VacationPort enables agents to create an e-mail promotion and then export it into the ClientBase e-mail program, officials said. Agents can then access a ClientBase e-mail activity record that details who opened the e-mail; what offers they clicked on and/or viewed; if they added an offer to the Contact Agent Trip Request and e-mailed the agency; and if they selected "Book Online/Check Availability."

INDEPENDENCE AIR signed an agreement to participate in Amadeus and should be available in the GDS in about a week, an airline spokesman said Jan. 5. The addition of Amadeus means Independence, which had planned to take only direct bookings when it launched in June, now will available on every GDS in hopes of increasing its corporate bookings. Independence began participating in Galileo/Apollo and Worldspan in November and Sabre in December.

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