Travelport's Traversa In Atypical Support Setup

As part of a previously disclosed services agreement between Orbitz for Business and Travelport, the former is providing "account management" and "technology support" services to clients of the latter's Traversa corporate booking tool, including the product's launch client, IBM.

"We provide a variety of services" to multiple Traversa clients in this manner, said Orbitz for Business president Frank Petito after a May 5 earnings announcement in which parent company Orbitz Worldwide announced that Orbitz for Business had signed a global renewal with IBM. "I'm not going to get too specific, but we provide some account management services, some technology support services. We have long history of working with the Traversa product."

It's not unusual for travel management companies to play such roles on behalf of corporate booking tool technology providers, but normally it's done with their own clients. IBM's TMC is American Express Business Travel, not Orbitz for Business.

Being related companies (Travelport remains a part owner of Orbitz), they obviously have a history of services agreements. Travelport said three years ago that big spender IBM had implemented the Traversa corporate booking tool. Orbitz for Business shortly thereafter announced it was using that tool for its Orbitz for Business International service. Petito in September said Orbitz had committed to using Traversa "for the first phase" of its international expansion.

But the pair had not previously revealed that Orbitz for Business was playing a representative role for the Traversa product on behalf of Travelport. One official called it a "diamond-shaped" relationship, rather than the traditional "triangular" booking tool provider-TMC-client setup.

Specifically noting that Orbitz for Business does not provide fulfillment and call center support to the likes of IBM, Petito said his company supports "not all" Traversa users but "there are a few big ones we work with." Deloitte and Microsoft also are Traversa customers.

Meanwhile, Petito said he was not sure how "germane" to Orbitz for Business the international online booking tool partnerships that Travelport reportedly is considering would be. HRG last week said it was providing its corporate booking tool to an unnamed GDS firm, and sources told The Beat that Rearden Commerce and Travelport had struck an expanded partnership of some sort.

Contacted for comments on the Orbitz-Travelport relationship, a Travelport spokeswoman confirmed that "IBM does indeed use Traversa" and "Orbitz for Business has a reseller agreement for Traversa which they package with other services they offer corporations," but she declined to provide further comments or answer more specific questions.

"What it sounds like they're doing is consolidating forces and cross-utilizing staff," said Travel Technology Consulting's Norm Rose. "Orbitz for Business is in the technical support business--not the TMC business--and technical support of a tool that is not their own. They're just going to have one team handling those tools, so I can see that angle."

Rose wondered whether these developments foretell any of the "long-term strategy for Traversa."

According to Travelport's 2009 annual report, Traversa had "over 444,000 active traveler profiles and processes in excess of 2 million segments annually."