The new alliance formed by two leaders of global travel industry should be a significant support for participants of the Russian tourist market.
Sirena-Travel, Russia's largest domestic global distribution system (GDS), and Travelport, the business services provider to the global travel industry, today jointly announced the signing of a ground-breaking strategic partnership which includes the immediate creation of "Sirena-Travel International, powered by Travelport". The two industry leaders decided to form the strategic partnership in order to work together to enhance the current international travel booking process in Russia and create more efficient distribution for airlines.
Through "Sirena-Travel International", Russian travel agents using one of Sirena's 16,000 booking terminals to book domestic flights, will be able to sell global air content negotiated and distributed by Travelport via their existing terminals. Significantly, it is estimated that the new link to international content will provide more than 40 per cent of Sirena-Travel's connected agents with the ability to book international flights for the first time. Other domestic-focussed Sirena-Travel users, already selling international flights as an add-on service through separate terminals, will no longer have the additional costs associated with running separate domestic and international GDS platforms.
The new Sirena-Travel International system offers comprehensive booking capabilities, including interlining, electronic ticketing, reporting and payment – all in a familiar booking environment. Minimal user training is required as the international air content is integrated into the agent's everyday workflow processes and all desktop tools and commands remain in Cyrillic.
For international airlines working with Travelport, operator of both the Galileo and Worldspan GDS platforms, the new Sirena-Travel/Travelport tie-up gives them deeper distribution throughout Russia via Sirena-Travel's large network of travel agencies spanning 7,000 locations across the country. Included in this network are numerous small, regional, travel businesses which have previously been unable to sell international flights.
As part of today's announcement, Travelport and Sirena-Travel confirmed that two major international carriers had already signed up to make their full published fares and inventory available in the new solution. Many other airlines have also indicated a strong interest in participation, recognising the value of deepening their distribution in Europe's fastest growing travel region where GDS bookings continue to grow yearly by around 20 per cent (source MIDT). Travelport is now working through a list of priority international carriers in order to integrate their content into Sirena-Travel International in time for the full industry launch to Russian travel agents this autumn.
Travelport´s Managing Director for Eastern Europe, Niklas Andreen, explained: "Our recent consumer market research in Russia has shown major frustrations amongst Russian travellers over the lack of information available and the time it takes when making a flight booking. We're therefore delighted to be partnering with Russia's leading domestic GDS to offer the local travel industry a remedy to this challenge via Sirena-Travel International.
"Today's announcement is very much a continuation of our ongoing investment strategy and focus on this region and our preferred approach of partnering with strong, local players to expand our offering. Through this partnership, Travelport is able to support a new category of largely domestic-focused travel agents and airlines in addition to the existing customer base we continue to support through Travelport's Galileo offering."
Marina Volodina, Director of the Commercial Department, JSC Sirena-Travel, added: "Agents remain the major booking channel in Russia so it really does make sense to enable them to work more efficiently in order to maximize their incomes, We're confident that this new solution will prove to be extremely popular amongst our users, particularly those who only have access to domestic content at the moment."
In addition to the creation of Sirena-Travel International, the two organizations are also jointly reviewing how they can serve the Russian airline industry in a more cost-effective way through a range of technical solutions. The first such solution already in place is Travelport's industry leading "Interline E-Ticketing Interchange" which Sirena-Travel will start to market to Russian airlines. The Interline E-ticketing Interchange translates all interline e-ticketing messages that take place between carriers thereby reducing the costs to airlines. Other airline solutions are expected to be jointly announced through the Sirena Travel/Travelport strategic partnership over the coming months.
"The Russian travel industry continues to grow and mature and we have been having a number of very interesting conversations with both travel agents and airlines for some time now. For us it made perfect sense to support our extensive customer base by entering into a strategic partnership with one of the leading GDS players in the world and I'm confident we've found the right partner in Travelport," concluded Mikhail Baskakov, General Director, CJSC Sirena-Travel.