Amadeus' two-sided distribution business operates at the nexus between travel providers, who make their wide range of travel products available to Amadeus' system, and travel agents and airline sales offices that use the system to make reservations for individual travellers.
The wide range of travel content available in Amadeus creates a powerful network effect, attracts a wide geographic spread, a large number of travel agents and airlines sales offices. In turn, the more travel agents connected to the sales network over many countries, the more attractive our network is for travel providers to be connected to this sales network. Therefore the larger the network, the more attractive it is for all participants and the more transaction revenue is generated. This enables us to invest more in research and development to provide better products within the network, further increasing its attractiveness.
Amadeus Commercial Organisations (ACOs) are our local offices that support both the distribution and IT business areas on the ground, providing local knowledge and improved access to customers, with special focus on travel agencies, while also benefitting from economies of scale through a shared customer support infrastructure. Thanks to ACOs, we can be both geographically and culturally closer to our customers, with more people on the ground managing accounts and looking after customers every day, and thus in touch with local needs and concerns. Currently we have 73 Amadeus Commercial Organisations covering 195 countries.
The importance of the local presence can hardly be overestimated, and it goes beyond strictly regular business support. As an example, when in May 2011 many airlines started to cancel flights due to an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano, our ACOs understood there would be major disruptions to the travel agencies and airline industry through mass flight cancellations and with travel agents desperately trying to have passengers rebooked onto alternative services. The unpredictability of the ash cloud led to even rebooked services being cancelled, leading to further chaos.
Our ACO in the UK set up an ad-hoc and exceptional support system by which the team of trainers were on hand for first level functional helpdesk to transfer ash cloud related calls to the available trainers, freeing up our first level helpdesk to ensure that we were still able to offer reasonable service levels to our customers regarding call waiting time. Ticket reissuance was the major call driver related to the ash cloud. As tickets reissues can be lengthy calls, this solution enabled our first level helpdesk to transfer the call to trainers and then attend further calls.