TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATOR

Colombia 2019 | TOURISM & ENTERTAINMENT | INTERVIEW

Amadeus has invested EUR4 million in R&D projects in recent years, chief among them the Live Travel Space initiative, which brings all stakeholders onto a single platform.

Juan Francisco Muñoz
BIOGRAPHY
Juan Francisco Muñoz has more than 20 years of experience working in commercial areas, eight of them in the tourism industry. He has held a number of key positions, the most recent being the Commercial Vice President of Movich Hotels and Resorts. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated excellent leadership and performance. He has a degree in business administration from the Universidad de la Sabana and a degree in marketing management from the Universidad del Rosario. He is completing an Executive Management Program in Senior Management at the University of Los Andes.

Amadeus has been working for the modernization and advancement of the travel and tourism industry for 30 years. How has this corporate experience translated into the Colombian market?
Our headquarters are in Madrid, our development and technology center is in Nice, France, and our data center is located in Erding, Germany. Amadeus has invested more than EUR4 million in R&D in recent years. We work at the forefront of advancing technology in the tourism industry. Colombia and the rest of the region are in the process of development, and Amadeus has the upper hand in latest tourism trends because its headquarters are in Europe. Notably, the recent trends in developed countries favor Colombia. Brazil and Colombia are the most important players in the region. On the other hand, Argentina is undergoing a challenging period, and Mexico is adjusting itself under the new government. Colombia is becoming fashionable among tourists across the world. We have taken advantage of our 30 years of technological development to bring all the latest developments and technologies to Colombia.

What growth opportunities are there for Amadeus in Colombia?
If we help the sector grow, we also benefit. What's important is to develop the sector in collaboration with all the stakeholders. If there are more reservations and movements through technology platforms, Amadeus will benefit. One prominent issue in Colombia is the lack of quality infrastructure, but that can be improved through proper management. As this infrastructure grows, both domestic and international tourism will grow. The government understands this and is working on infrastructure.

Amadeus recently presented the Live Travel Space initiative. What is this initiative, and how will it change tourism and travel?
Live Travel Space is an ecosystem that brings all stakeholders on a single platform that is accessible by travel agents across the world. Live Travel Space works with all the airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and tourism providers. Tourism is evolving with technology, and at present, airlines and tourism providers are not only using a global distribution system (GDS) but also new initiatives such as The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NATA). Then there are APIs that connect different agencies and airlines. Amadeus integrates all these technologies into Live Travel Space. Live Travel Space means having the whole world of travel on a single platform.

What are the sectors that still need a digital transformation in Colombia?
We need a hotel infrastructure. There are many international chains, but Colombia needs hotels not just in the major cities but also in remote places. Moreover, if Colombia wants to become a regional tourism hub, we need to train people in languages, tourism services, and technology. Equally important, we need to think beyond Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla. Moving forward, only agencies that invest in technology and automate their processes will survive. Technology is not necessarily expensive; there are solutions available for USD100 a month. If Colombia can get things right, it can become a big name in the tourism industry. For perspective, Mexico and Colombia receive around 34 million and 4 million tourists per year, respectively; the difference is that Mexico has infrastructure, language skills, and other services.

What are your future plans?
We are working hard on big data and business intelligence. We have an impressive source of information in our system, which has more than 600 airlines. This allows us to let agencies know about clients' travelling habits so they can make personalized sales. We work with process automation. We are a technology agency, and we offer front-end and back-end services. In Colombia, we must work on automating processes to avoid manual errors. It will also help us become more efficient. Undoubtedly, tourism can spearhead Colombia's economic growth. Amadues grew by 6.3% in 2018 and it is targeting 10% growth in 2019.