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Creating a competitive travel sector

Travel technology can benefit both travel providers and the travel sector. It spurs innovation and creates a level playing field for travel players of any size, while offering travelers diverse and competitively priced airfares, accommodations and other travel services.

    A more competitive travel ecosystem

    Gone are the days that travel was mainly bought through brick-and-mortar travel agents. Most providers of flights, accommodation, rental cars and packages now sell directly via their own online channels.

    Indirect distribution channels create a level playing field for smaller providers of accommodation, transport and travel services. Direct online sales often privilege larger providers, whose sizable content and marketing budgets can garner them higher search rankings. Indirect channels stimulate local economies by allowing travel entrepreneurs and SMEs to showcase their offers in the same way as large travel holdings:

    • Indirect distribution channels unlock worldwide audiences, which before could only be reached through intermediaries or expensive marketing campaigns.
    • The pay-per-performance model further reduces risk and makes marketing spending more efficient.

    Travel technology can also help grow the travel and tourism ecosystem. With new destinations and travel options now just a few clicks away, booking travel has become a lot easier. This allows travel technology to tap into new audiences and increase overall travel.

    Travel made convenient with indirect distribution

    Indirect distribution channels also empower consumers to make informed choices. Online travel agents (OTAs), metasearch platforms and Travel Tech systems, also traditionally known as GDSs, allow travelers to find the stay, transport or service they like best within the price range that works for them, filtering for what matters to them, whether that is accessibility, pet access or sustainability.

    Through indirect distribution, travelers can easily discover new destinations and properties, finding the combination of travel services that works best for them. They can more easily select rail and multimodal journeys, or benefit from virtual interlining to combine flights from different airlines. They can combine stays in hotels from different groups and excursions from different providers, all with the click of a button.

    Travel tech can also increase the value for money which customers receive. By allowing travelers to directly compare suppliers, indirect distribution services stimulate competition and increased quality in transport, accommodation and services.

    Ending Google’s abuse of its dominance in search

    Google unfairly prioritises its own travel tools. Many travelers start planning their trips on a search engine, expecting to be shown a wide variety of travel providers and booking services. On Google, however, they are most likely to find flights, hotels, short-term rentals and attractions from the company’s own vertical search tools. These self-preferential search practices stifle competition, reduce traveler choice and drive-up costs.

    More and more jurisdictions are taking steps to address the stranglehold Google and other gatekeepers have on competition. Multiple antitrust cases have been filed and ruled on against tech giants over their anticompetitive practices. The regulatory avenue has also been adopted by many jurisdictions to address those practices, such as the European Union’s 2022 Digital Markets Act.

    Expertise for policymakers

    Global Travel Tech wants to become a major partner in industry and regulatory discussions at the global level. Since its members include online travel agencies (OTAs – Expedia Group, eDreams ODIGEO), metasearch platforms (Skyscanner, Kayak) and gTravel Tech systems, also traditionally known as GDSs (Amadeus, Travelport), it represents the entire chain of indirect ticket distribution.