How travel has sown the seeds of its own disruption

Disruption in travel is likely to be born from within it, according to a founder of Intent Media and a former senior executive of Travelocity which previously owned

Richard Harris, who founded Intent Media in 2008, addressed a recent dinner among a series this year to mark Travolution’s tenth birthday during World Travel Market.

He said the evolution of travel can be traced back through the same people and ideas to the foundations of the industry.

Harris originally founded Site59, a pioneering last minute dynamic package site, in 2000. It was bought by Travelocity, an arm of the Sabre Global Distribution System, which bought in 2005 taking it into private ownership.

Harris said: “When I Look at the travel industry in the US it’s been a long history of people giving birth to their own worst nightmare.

“American Airlines gave birth to Sabre, an electronic data exchange or booking engine. The airlines’ worst enemy became the GDSs, then the GDSs, in the case of Sabre, gave birth to Travelocity and so the airlines and the GDSs ended up being at war with Online Travel Agencies.

“And then Travelocity spawned KAYAK. You can trace the line, the physical people, the capital, the ideas between these. KAYAK and other search engines ended up disrupting the other OTAs and they are a serious threat today.

“From KAYAK there is a bunch of artificial intelligence agencies that are now message bots that are out there disrupting the metasearch engines, the OTAs and the GDSs. And they are coming back to disrupt the founders, the GDSs, and getting between travel agents and the way that they book.

“It’s a fascinating dysfunctional industry we all work in. It is on the one hand a beautiful industry in that it’s constantly disrupting itself, on the other hand it’s always giving birth to something that may end up eating its mother. And that’s been fraught.”

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