Travelport is one of the world’s four major middlemen of airplane tickets, along with Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelsky. Airlines distribute their fares via these GDSs, or global distribution systems, which provide booking platforms for tens of thousands of travel agents and online travel agencies worldwide. These technology companies do the behind-the-scenes work of powering the distribution and reservation systems of the world’s major airline, hotel, car rental, and railway groups. Almost every flight, hotel, car rental, or train trip booking is touched by the software of these billion-dollar companies.
Despite their reach, these companies are largely unknown to consumers. But these travel marketplaces, platforms, and distributors sit on major fault lines of disruption. The earthquakes affecting these companies tell larger stories about the travel industry as a whole. As new technologies and commercial models emerge and shake the industry up, these companies are pivoting in interesting ways.
Skift has been sitting down with a handful of industry leaders for its new Travel Tech CEO Listening Series to discover what the people at the top are concerned with now and where they see the industry heading.
In June 2011, Gordon Wilson became Travelport’s president and chief executive. At the time, the company was backed by private equity group Blackstone, which had bought it for $4.3 billion in 2006. In 2014, Wilson successfully guided the once heavily indebted company to an initial public offering.
Like its peer companies, Travelport wants to diversify beyond its distribution business, which — while still a cash cow — is facing pricing pressures on several fronts. Its most successful diversification effort is with eNett, a business-to-business payments service that is growing rapidly.
In his first interview with Skift, Wilson discusses his plans for the travel marketplace company and his view of what’s next for the industry.
Skift: What’s next for Travelport?
Wilson: Last year we did about $2.34 billion of revenue. Our plan is by 2020 that we’ll be a $3 billion company. We’re going to get there through investment in becoming the market leader in digital corporate travel solutions through the various investments we’ve made in our facilities in Ireland and Australia. (Note: Although based in the UK, the company has two “centers of excellence” in Atlanta and Denver.) We’ll also get there through continuing to be the market leader in commercial payments in the travel industry through eNett, which is growing fast.
To read the rest of the interview, click here.