Travel Weeklys Technology E-letter: July 12, 2006

A BLACKSTONE GROUP AFFILIATE, TDS Investor LLC, agreed to purchase Cendants Travelport division -- Galileo, Orbitz and 19 other businesses -- for about $4.3 billion in cash. Cendants distribution businesses, subject to regulatory approvals, thus would go private instead of being spun off into public companies as the real estate, lodging and car rental businesses are slated to be. Travelport officials believe the sale will bring an infusion of funds to support strategic moves and give the businesses the cover to grow without the glare of public company status. One of the major initiatives that the independent Travelport Inc. will have to deal with is Project Austin, the technology integration of its eBookers, Gullivers Travel Associates, Orbitz and Cheaptickets businesses. The exact price tag of Project Austin hasnt been disclosed, but the Travelport purchase agreement defines the costs as $56.2 million minus the aggregate amount paid prior to the closing date by or on behalf of the acquired companies. Alan Josephs, managing director of eBookers, told that eBookers will relaunch its U.K. site in fourth-quarter 2006, transitioning it to what would become a common Travelport IT platform. The 13 other eBookers Web sites in Europe, as well as the Orbitz and CheapTickets Web sites, would transition to the Travelport platform in 2007, Josephs said. For eBookers, the goal is not merely to standardize the GUI (graphical user interface), but to integrate back-end applications, including booking engines, revenue management systems and merchandising administrative tools.

TRAVELPORT, meanwhile, introduced a new Web site at, replete with a new logo and organizational structure. New names for Travelports two divisions are Orbitz Worldwide and the Business Group. Managed on a geographic basis, the brands previously fell under Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business/Corporate umbrellas. Under the leadership of President and CEO Jeff Clarke and Chairman Gordon Bethune, Mitch Truwit is the president and CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and Ken Esterow is the president and CEO of Business Group Americas. Gordon Wilson holds those titles for Business Group EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia & the Pacific. Orbitz Worldwide includes, Away Network,,,,, Octopus Travel,, and Travelbag. The Business Group comprises aiRes, Galileo, GTA (Gullivers Travel Associates), Neat Technology Solution, Orbitz for Business, Shepherd Systems, Thor, Travelbound, Travelport for Business, Trust International and WizCom.

SABRE provided further information to agency subscribers about how to opt out of its Efficient Access Solution (EAS), slated to go into effect Aug. 1, and confirmed that there will be no incentive reduction for agencies that opt out. In a message to agencies obtained by and posted on a Sabre agency Web site, Sabre reiterated that EAS is optional, and that agencies will be automatically enrolled in the program. The program guarantees inventory from AirTran, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways [including America West], and reduces incentives up to 80 cents per segment. Sabre noted that agencies that opt out may not get guaranteed access to participating airlines published and Web fares, as well as your agency negotiated rates and those of the corporate or government clients you serve. Non-EAS agencies also are not assured of protection from service fees that a program carrier might levy on bookings made through the Sabre GDS, Sabre said. Sabre also cautioned that if an agency opts out, getting back in will be at Sabres discretion, and may be under revised terms from those currently offered. To decline EAS participation, agencies click on an Opt Out button in Sabres Agency eServices Web site, the company informed subscribers. Agents can expect an e-mail from Sabre within five days, confirming that they have been removed.

YAHOO integrated its Trip Planner tool across the Yahoo network, including Yahoo Travel, Yahoo FareChase, Yahoo Search and Yahoo Travel Guides. Trip Planner, introduced in a limited fashion in beta some nine months ago, enables consumers to create their own trip plans; add maps, photos and journals; and share them with others. Trip Planner occupies prominent real estate -- a large module in the upper-right corner -- of, which features Travelocity as the air, car and hotel booking engine. Jasper Malcolmson, director of Yahoo! Travel, termed Trip Planner a very sticky product, meaning it entices consumers to spend more time on Yahoo Web sites, adding that it coincides with Yahoos strategy to build community-oriented products that enable users to share their experiences.

CONDE NAST AND EXPEDIA.COM signed a multiyear agreement under which will be the exclusive online travel provider and booking engine for the Conde Nast Web site at Under the deal, Expedia gets access to customized content from Conde Nast, Expedia stated.

Technology Editor:

Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

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