Participating in the annual corporate run in downtown Miami more than a decade ago, Tom Cates realized how under-the-radar his corporation really was.
The announcer welcomed groups from company after well-known company in Miami. Then he got to the 50-member group from Amadeus, where Cates is chief commercial officer for the North America region.
“He goes, ‘What’s an Amadeus?’ ” Cates recalled during an interview recently at the company’s Doral office.
The travel technology corporation, which has global corporate headquarters in Madrid, is accustomed to operating behind the scenes. While well known within the industry as a link between travel providers, sellers and buyers as well as a group that develops new technology and consults with companies for custom products, Amadeus has little name recognition with consumers.
“We always say we’re the brand behind the brand,” Cates said.
They could also be described as the brand between the brands, distributing data for airlines, hotels, rail companies, rental cars and other suppliers to travel agents, online travel sites and travel buyers. In addition to distribution, Amadeus also provides information technology services to airlines, hotels, cruise lines and others that include reservation systems, inventory or property management, search functions, bookings and a variety of other services.
Amadeus said it processes 40 percent of all air travel agency bookings worldwide; even more travelers encounter the company when they pay for checked luggage online, rent a car or book a hotel.
“You may not realize that you’re using Amadeus, but it’s getting you to where you want to go or where you want to stay,” said Maria Morato, the company’s head of internal communications for the United States and Canada.
Because the services provided by the company are so broad, Amadeus says it competes with a host of companies, including other distribution systems such as Sabre and Travelport as well as Google and Microsoft.
Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst for Hudson Crossing, said Amadeus is well-regarded, with a reputation as a technology innovator.
“Companies like Amadeus are the little blue crystals, if you will, in the detergent of travel e-commerce,” he said. “They help to create a better planning and shopping experience for us as consumers.”
Harteveldt pointed out that the travel industry has been dealing in e-commerce for more than 50 years, since American Airlines and IBM developed the system known as Sabre.
“Amadeus has really taken this airline distribution capability to new levels,” he said. “They’ve been a pioneer in terms of web, they’ve been a pioneer in terms of helping airlines do a better job of selling optional products to us. They had a very global perspective.”
The company was formed in 1987 as a global distribution system for four airlines: Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia and SAS. Amadeus used SystemOne, a computer reservations system founded by Eastern Airlines in Miami, to build the global distribution system starting in 1995 and then fully acquired SystemOne in 1998. That put Amadeus on the map in North America; several of the employees who work for the company in Doral today came from Eastern Airlines and SystemOne.