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Connecting with 68,000 Travelport agents could be the lifeline Eurostar needs

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Left to right Simon Tyler (Eurostar), Kamal Abbasi (Eurostar), Derek Sharp (Travelport) and Karima Bennour (Eurostar)

Following Travelport’s response to Travel Daily’s assessment of its future last week, the travel commerce platform has now announced it has signed an agreement with Eurostar International, to supply the company the high-speed UK and Europe rail link with its ‘merchandising solution, Rich Content and branding’.

Derek Sharp, senior vice present and managing director of air commerce at Travelport, said: “Today’s announcement further enhances and strengthens the cooperation between Eurostar and Travelport. It also marks another significant milestone for Rich Content and Branding as Eurostar is the first rail operator that can display rich content in a way which replicates the consumer experience online.”

The agreement should be seen as a lifeline to Eurostar which has suffered mixed fortunes since it first opened in 1994.

The Eurostar high-speed bullet train, which connects Paris Gare du Nord to London St. Pancras station, celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2014
Eurostar International high-speed bullet train, which connects Paris Gare du Nord to London St. Pancras
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Indeed, any successes the company achieves are often swiftly turned on the head, one example being how the record-breaking numbers achieved in 2008, which saw a 10.3% rise in passenger use, was immediately slapped down just one year later, when footfall fell 11.5% because of the 2009 recession and the 2008 ‘Chunnel fire’ – which, after raging for 16 hours, resulted in 14 miles of commercial track to be closed for nearly six months and deeply affected the public trust of the link.

Exterior view of St Pancras International train station in London
St Pancras International, home of Eurostar

However, the rise in the public’s awareness of environmental issues has played in the rail company’s favour, as rail travel is now considered a viable, even preferable alternative to flying for many short-haul destinations. By signing up with Travelport, Eurostar will be connected to over 68,000 affiliated travel agents and management companies across the world. Travelport will also deliver to agents a graphically rich experience when searching for, and booking Eurostar branded fares and seats.

Simon Tyler, head of sales and business improvement at Eurostar International: “Our agreement with Travelport demonstrates our commitment to better serve the end traveller and marks a new era of indirect distribution for Eurostar. With visually rich content covering our onboard classes of service and range of fares and offers, agents across the world will have at their fingertips the product information they need to represent our offering in the best possible manner. We’re looking forward to seeing the benefits this provides to our customers and our business.”

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