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Wed 3 Oct 2007 04:00 AM

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The distribution revolution

ArabianTravel News talks to Triton Distribution CEO Gregory Lykiardopoulos about the future direction of global distribution strategies and adapting to a changing marketplace.

ArabianTravel News talks to Triton Distribution CEO Gregory Lykiardopoulos about the future direction of global distribution strategies and adapting to a changing marketplace.

What products does Triton Distribution offer and how do you differ from other GDS providers?

Triton is a Colorado-based company that has been in business since January 2006.

Travel agents here are not prepared to charge the customers any fees — they need to find another solution.

Basically it's a global distribution company, but not in the sense of Galileo, Sabre and Amadeus, which are more focused on distributing airline inventory.

Flights are one of the elements we distribute, but we offer many other products; hotels, motels, B&Bs, theatre tickets, yachts, ferries, and trains - you name it - we distribute anything to do with the travel, transportation or hospitality industries.

Who are your customers?

We distribute on an exclusively B2B basis. We don't have any inclination in our business plan to go B2C yet.

We are also creating a dynamic capability for agencies, enabling them to perform dynamic packaging.

Instead of the travel agent searching the internet trying to figure out what he can include, he can get into [Triton] and actually find a one-stop-shop where he can put together anything that he wants.

How do you work with your vendors?

We have two ways to accommodate vendors.

If they are sophisticated and have the technical capability to access their database, we can do that on direct connect and get inventory from them and distribute it worldwide.

If they don't have that capability, we give them another facility; a data warehouse.

They can go in there and install and manage their inventory themselves.

On that basis, with very little money, these people can actually access the global market.
What are the benefits of the Global Gateways you can offer?

We take a region and we develop an online gateway to it. Every single travel agent in the world can go to that gateway and get all of the information they need in one place.

We can create an interactive capability for them to book in that gateway.

In some cases the travel agent has to go into 10 different websites to get all the information they require to package something together, which wastes so much time.

We will give them the ability to do it seamlessly. We are going to build a gateway for the Middle East, as well as one for North Africa.

How user-friendly is the system?

The core of the system can accommodate a multitude of databases that it accesses, but as far as the user is concerned, there is only one user interface (UI).

They do not have to get out of that UI in any way. The user can stay in there and it will walk them through all these destinations and even build the PNR for them.

They don't have to wait for a tour operator to follow up, which saves them time and their customers money, because a tour operator would charge them for additional services.

Due to savings made the agent can either mark up their price [by adding a service fee] or pass that saving onto the customer.

Has there been much interest in Triton from the Middle East market?

We have signed [numerous] travel agencies in the Middle East who have realised the power of the system and how helpful it is going to be for them.

Right now they all have these green screens - they thought they already had the best technology, but the world doesn't stop evolving and looking to the future. The growth of the Middle East's travel industry looks set to accelerate further.

What feedback have you had from Middle East-based agents?

I spoke to several agents who said the reason they don't use the GDS, except for air tickets, is because the content they are looking for is not on the GDS.

When they see what they can do [with Triton], they realise this is where they can make money - the ticket is not where they make money any more.

The wave has already hit the UK and the US - most airlines have cut their commissions - that wave is now coming here. When they realise what is happening and suddenly one of the carriers stops paying commission, what happens?

How are they going to make money? Travel agents here are not prepared to charge the customers any fees - they need to find another solution and that is the leisure sector.

We have never asked them to eliminate the GDS, but invited them to run us alongside the GDS so they can see what the difference is.

They accept it because they see they have to diversify.

Checking in

Kazi moves to Bahrain

Rafat Kazi has been appointed public relations manager of the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel. Kazi will be responsible for cementing the property's reputation as a premium business hotel for corporate travellers. She previously worked for ITC Hotel Grand Sheraton and Towers, Mumbai, where she was responsible for public relations and communications.

Big job for Barnes

Philip M Barnes has been named regional vice president, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Middle East and general manager, Palm Island. Barnes will be responsible for all of Fairmont's hotels in the Middle East and the opening of new properties in the region. As general manager of Palm Island he will take charge of two Fairmont hotels and a number of residential developments, including a Fairmont Heritage Place.

Tideman to the Towers

Frank Tideman has been appointed general manager of the Millennium Towers Hotel Dubai. Tideman joins the property's pre-opening team from Dubai's Emerald Palace Group where he held the position of executive vice president. He has also worked in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China and the UK.

Seasons for Sallam

Ayman Sallam has been appointed director of sales at the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano, Egypt. Sallam, who was born in Alexandria, previously held the position of director of sales at the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels in Kuwait. He has also held positions in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Hyatt job swappers

The general manager of the Grand Hyatt Amman Otto Steenbeek is to switch jobs with the GM of Hyatt Regency Mainz, Germany, Benno Geruschkat. The latter has worked throughout in Kiel, Ulm and Fulda, Germany, before joining Hyatt International in Mainz.

JW appoints new GM

Wael Soueid has been appointed general manager of the JW Marriott Dubai. Soueid has been with Marriott since 1991 and has worked in a variety of roles, first in Marriott Prince de Galles in Paris and then at JW Marriott Dubai. During his time in Dubai he has helped open a 150-room extension and managed a refurbishment of the property.

Shawki is sure thing

Ihab Shawki has been appointed director of sales and marketing at the Millennium Towers Hotel Dubai. He will be responsible for managing his team through the pre-opening phase of the property. Shawki has extensive experience of the Middle East industry having worked for five-star chains in Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Even More Gulf Reps

Dubai-based destination marketing company Gulf Reps has made two new appointments.

Irish national Aiveen Ryan is now the account manager for Tourism Ireland - the contract for which Gulf Reps recently announced. Ryan will be responsible for promoting Ireland to the trade and consumers over the coming months.

Meanwhile, Dean Hopkins has stepped into the role of key account manager for Tempo Holidays - an Australian wholesaler of travel packages, represented by Gulf Reps in the GCC - following the departure of John Flower. Hopkins was previously a senior consultant for Tempo Holidays.

Musch joins Miramar

Alexander Musch has been appointed resident manager of Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort's new Fujairah property. Musch previously held the position of operation manager at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Hotel and has worked for Hilton in Germany and Amsterdam.

Phillips leaves Ritz

Raki Phillips has left The Ritz-Carlton Doha where he was director of sales to join The Fairmont Dubai as area director of sales and marketing. In his new role, Phillips will be responsible for the sales and marketing strategy for The Fairmont Dubai and the hotel group's forthcoming UAE properties on The Palm Jumeirah (Dubai) and in Fujairah and Abu Dhabi.

Red Sea promotions

Karim Boushra has relinquished his position as sales and marketing manager at the Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Hotel to become resident manager of the five-star Red Sea property. Boushra joined the hotel in August 2006 and played a pivotal role in its opening in December 2006.

Meanwhile, Ihab Mahfouz has been promoted from chief accountant to assistant financial controller of the hotel.

Ribbe replaces Ries

Willy Ribbe has replaced Thorsten Ries as area general manager, The Ritz Carlton, Qatar. He will take responsibility for the operations of The Ritz Carlton Doha and Sharq Village and Spa as well as the development of the hotel company in Qatar. Ribbe said he was eager to reinforce and strengthen the group's position as a market leader.

Shulze moves on

Sandra Shulze has moved from her position as assistant public relations and marketing communications manager at the Renaissance Dubai Hotel to become marketing communications and public relations manager at the Millennium Towers Hotel Dubai. Shulze will form part of the pre-opening team and will be responsible for raising awareness of the group's new Middle East flagship property.

Al Rostamani recruit

Tawanda Kaseke has been appointed recruitment coordinator for Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays in Dubai. Kaseke joins Al Rostamani from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, where he held the position of human resources administrator.

Julia joins Ritz carlton

Julia Rothe has been appointed wholesale manager for the European market at The Ritz Carlton, Bahrain Hotel and Spa. Rothe will be responsible for dealing with the hotel's key wholesale partners and agents in Europe. Rothe joins the hotel from The Ritz Carlton Berlin, Germany.

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