A MAJOR player in the $US7 trillion ($8.4 trillion) global travel and travel industry, the London-based Travelport, has been quietly buying up Melbourne-based technology companies to launch around the world.
Travelport, which transacted travel worth $US85 billion last year and recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, makes the software that helps users book with more than 400 airlines and 600,000 hotels.
“A lot of your readers have probably never heard of us,” says Gordon Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Travelport. “We sit behind the big online travel agencies like Webjet and corporate travel agencies like Hogg Robinson and Carlson Wagonlit. It’s our systems they use to make all the bookings.”
Australia and New Zealand represent one of its biggest markets, and it has been selling its technology to bricks and mortar and online travel agencies such as Flight Centre for decades.
A lawyer by training, Mr Wilson, was in Sydney yesterday discussing his recent decision to raise his stake in eNett, an electronic business-to-business payment company from 56 to 73 per cent at a cost of $US64 million.
He also recently bought a 49 per cent stake in travel technology company Locomote buying it from Melbourne entrepreneur, Philip Weinman.
“I am taking these Australian products global,” Mr Wilson said, “eNett is now in 45 countries and growing, it’s a very successful business. Our calculation is there is $US780bn worth of business to business which takes place between the world’s travel agencies and suppliers (annually.)”
“We have put this new product (Locomote) into ANZ Bank, which is how it is running its corporate travel.”
Mr Wilson, said he was pleased the Abbott government had proceeded with the free-trade agreement with China, South Korea and Japan as it would open up marketplaces for Australian business people.
“You don’t do deals with Chinese, South Koreans and Japanese without going face to face. I love it.”
“I see business travel being very robust in this market, that includes business travel into Australia, quid pro quo with the FTA. Where Chinese business people tend to go Chinese tourists follow.”
Meanwhile, Mr Wilson said he was seeking more IT companies to acquire. “We have form in terms of looking for innovative entrepreneurial technology based companies.”
As for travel trends next year Mr Wilson is seeing great growth into Africa particularly from Asia. He predicts consumer bargains for flights in Asia next year because of the extra capacity from low-cost carriers going into that market.
*Source: The Australian, December 5th 2014