The travel industry has talked for some time about end-to-end mobility without delivering. But if a partnership among European travel companies goes according to plan, travelers in Europe could have the option to book all legs of their trip in a single platform as soon as summer 2024, says Jean-François Cases, president of the data-sharing initiative EONA-X.
Rather than going to various websites or apps, travelers could use a single app to select flights, buses, trains, car rides and even bicycles from an à la carte menu. Then they’d receive real-time updates and notifications in the app, and all tickets and travel documents would be stored there.
Nearly one year since EONA-X officially formed on April 1, the initiative is on track to launch the multimodal service in time for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris so it can be operational for delegations to use, according to Cases.
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EONA-X was founded by Aéroport Marseille Provence, Air France-KLM Group, global travel technology provider Amadeus, Groupe ADP, Renault Group and SNCF Group. Apidae Tourisme, a tourist data platform that includes most local and regional tourism offices in France, is an active member. Besides serving as the initiative’s president, Cases is also vice president and associate general counsel of intangibles, data value and R&D for Amadeus.
The group’s vision is to “facilitate data sharing in a secure and standardized way to enhance seamless travel, multi/intermodality and apply a sustainability approach to smart cities,” according to the website.
Possible uses are endless, Cases says. For example, the collaboration could lead to an airport providing more chargers for electric vehicles.
The partners are also developing solutions for travel disruption. For instance, if a train breaks down, how will passengers easily access other transportation? The app will be unique in that it will manage disruptions in real-time, according to Cases.
“All the participants share the value of the [data] exchange” so not just one company benefits, but sovereignty over their own data is key, Cases says. “Everybody exchanges data only to whom they want, when they want and on the conditions they want.”
If Europe wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050, people will have to change the way they move.
Jean-François Cases - EONA-X
Data presents an opportunity to create added value in the world of mobility, including real-time, simulation, AI support, aggregation and graphical/3D user experience, according to Air France-KLM group transformation senior adviser Jean-Christophe Lalanne.
EONA-X enables companies to share knowledge, enhance collective intelligence and open access to data “in a safe and sovereign way,” he says.
Because of the expertise of data scientists and data analysts, “from a technical standpoint a lot is available and a lot is to come,” Lalanne says. “It’s time to unleash creativity and ideation” to address customers’ pain points in mobility and tourism.
The collaboration resulted from proposed regulations drawn up by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm. A group of travel organizations recently pressed the EU to require airlines and train operators to share their data with third parties as part of the new Multimodal Digital Mobility Services regulation, Business Travel News Europe reported. The proposed rule “aims to better integrate public transport and rail services to achieve seamless multimodal passenger transport.”
It is all part of an overarching EU goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.
“If Europe wants to be carbon neutral by 2050, people will have to change the way they move,” Cases says. “Multimodality is not a choice. We need to plan for that. ... We are obliged to go that way because it is the authorities’ roadmap.”
Industry players understand that they must adapt for the common good – to fight pollution and mitigate climate change, he says. Multimodal options will include car sharing, electric cars, bicycles and trains.
Amadeus commissioned a 2022 study that found that a multimodal digital services ecosystem could reduce CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometer by 5%. That’s because travelers could compare the carbon emissions footprint of different travel options, while also choosing from an improved selection that allows them to leave their cars at home, according to Amadeus.
The transition won’t be easy, Cases says. Electric cars are more expensive than gas-powered cars, and it takes effort to travel by bicycle instead of a car. Fortunately, he says, younger generations of Europeans prefer to travel sustainably, such as taking a train instead of a plane.
EONA-X will be a data catalog, an organized inventory of shareable data assets, according to the group.
Data spaces like EONA-X serve an important purpose because breaking down silos among companies fuels innovation, Cases says.
“But you know, sharing data is not easy,” he says. “People don’t like to give data. They always think that the other one is going to make more money with your data than you could have done yourself.”
The key is ensuring that the data is shared evenly so everyone benefits. Still, “challenges are many,” Cases says. For example, different modes of transport have developed their own standards and systems that have operated independently for years. Privacy and antitrust laws make data sharing risky for businesses.
But an end-to-end mobility service will work now because the government is requiring action, consumers want it and data-sharing like this will enable it, Cases says.
Options could even include electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, says Peter Altmann, vice president of mobility and travel protection at Amadeus.
The company’s investment in Eccocar, announced in late 2022, “will allow experimentation to enable more seamless travel use cases along the end-to-end journey,” Altmann says.
Amadeus envisions extending the end-to-end experience beyond mobility to apply to the entire traveler journey.
“The idea is for travel sellers to also be able to propose destination services - for example, restaurants, places to visit,” Altmann says. “Through the Amadeus Travel Platform, we will enable a traveler’s planning of the entire journey and their payment in one transaction.”
Many other companies
are also developing multimodal solutions.
Since August users in the United Kingdom have been able to search and book train and bus trips in Uber, including travel on Eurostar and for airport transfers, through a partnership with multimodal travel platform Omio. And hotels and flights may be on the way.
Founded in 2018, Vipper aims to simplify the booking of rail, bus and flight tickets on one platform.
Mobility company routeRank and payments solutions specialist Netcetera plan to provide solutions for multimodal mobility.