FRAMINGHAM (07/04/2000) - Trying to get into the business-to-business travel market before it's too late, Amadeus Global Travel Distribution SA recently said it's teaming up with IBM Corp.'s Lotus Development Corp. subsidiary to design corporate travel-management applications that will run on intranets or the public Internet.
Rather than going through the 50,000 terminals that Amadeus boasts in travel agencies and airline offices, the system would let corporate travel managers or end users book flights and hotels directly, while enforcing corporate restrictions on travel. The Lotus connection would add access through Domino.
Madrid-based Amadeus - which operates one of the big computerized travel-reservation systems - has yet to make a big splash in the business-to-business portion of the travel industry. That's becoming a battleground among the established reservations systems and several Internet upstarts. Companies such as Sabre Inc., GetThere.com Inc., Worldspan LP and eTravel Ltd. already have staked out positions ahead of Amadeus.
But it's still at least six months away from being ready to release its new applications, said David Jones, interim president and CEO of Amadeus America in Miami.
Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., called Amadeus' plans "a day late and a dollar short." Forrester estimates that 400 of the Fortune 500 companies already have established a business-to-business travel link with one of Amadeus' rivals.
But Lorraine Sileo, an analyst at online travel-research firm PhoCusWright Inc. in Sherman, Conn., said Amadeus and other established reservation-systems operators are redefining themselves and still may build on their strong presence in Europe and South America.