Mobile itinerary-management company WorldMate shook up its executive ranks and is making a push for cobranded deals and advertising agreements with airlines, hotels and GDSs, as well as white-label pacts with smartphone manufacturers.
As announced previously, the Palo Alto, Calif., firm will be rolling out a Blackbery app, Virgin Blue by WorldMate, in the first quarter which will enable Virgin Blue passengers to book flights and check-in from their Blackberrys.
A second phase of the implementation will involve deeper integration, including push alerts and opportunities for ancillary revenue such as hotel and limo bookings, says Nadav Gur, WorldMate's founding CEO, who becomes chief commercial officer in the executive maneuverings.
In addition to the Virgin Blue deal, which involves a revenue-share model, Gur says WorldMate is talking to GDSs about joint solutions, has conversations going with major global airlines, and is "a few days away" from announcing an advertising launch where a major a hotel chain and some airlines will advertise on WorldMate's Symbian app, an operating system used on Ericcson and Nokia phones.
Rest assured that in WorldMate's GDS discussions, it probably isn't having much conversation with Sabre, which has its own itinerary-management app in TripCase.
Among the management changes at WorldMate, Jean Tripier, most previously chief operating officer at mobile-solutions provider Good Technology, becomes WorldMate's new CEO, and Amir Kirshenboim returns to WorldMate as CEO of WorldMate Israel.
WorldMate says Tripier will head negotiations with "top-level brands" on co-branded distribution deals, which WorldMate argues is becoming a trend as travel companies seek to accelerate rollouts of their mobile offerings.
Tripier says a lot of airlines around the world have been building their own mobile apps for the iPhone, but they are short-changing themselves as many business travelers use Blackberrys and smartphones with the Symbian operating system, for instance.
In addition, an airline's customers usually have relationships with more than one airline, and WorldMate can provide airline customers access to multiple airlines in these cobranded deals.
Says Gur: "Every airline has a line item to do mobile. Then they figure out that it's complex" and look for solutions and focus on "how do we make this a profit center instead of a cost center."
WorldMate says 5 million travelers use its personal assistant and hopes the executive changes will boost global expansion.