London – Technology and Online Travel at World Travel Market has a record number of exhibitors this year that reflects the huge recent upsurge in interest in technology in the travel industry.
New innovations such as ‘social media’ are behind an explosion of websites with user-generated content from increasingly empowered online customers. Travel companies have looked to technology to distribute their products using customised and personalised communications that users expect today on any mobile device and in whatever mode they choose.
With technology the fastest growing sector of the industry, World Travel Market provides a useful showcase of today’s technology advances and the latest tools and trends. The range of stands reflects how technology drives every aspect of the travel industry – from online marketing to ebusiness, foreign currency transactions to fraud prevention, virtual tours to interactive maps, multiplatform technology to ecommerce.
Fiona Jeffery, managing director of WTM, said: “World Travel Market is helping the industry to meet the challenges of a consumer-driven digital age. Technology and Online Travel @ WTM provides travel companies with an insight into how to maintain a competitive advantage in this new era.”
Travel websites are responding to consumer driven trends for more animated and interactive content. Companies like 360TravelGuide.com offer the world’s largest library of virtual tours to the likes of Thomson and the BBC. Applied Card Technologies (ACT) now has 3.1 million smart card holders of its smart visitor destination management systems, including Cheshire County Council‘s TravelCard.
One of the ‘content’ buzzwords of 2006, interactive maps are marketed by PC Graphics producing customised mapping for TUI UK, council tourism departments, national tourist boards and travel guide publications.
Online marketing is one of the key areas of this year’s event that contributes in a major way to the success of travel businesses. Artavia Advertising specialises in online promotion and emarketing for hotels like Dial House and tour operator Hidays.com to build traffic and revenue.
At the top end of the market, JohnHenry.net specialises in creating websites for the design conscious luxury hotel and travel industry, recently winning the TravelMole ‘best hotel website award’ for the myhotels website.
Smart sales for hotels
With worldwide electronic hotel revenue up by 13.7% in the second quarter of 2006 (TravelCLICK’s quarterly eMonitor survey), hotel online sales are booming. Formula Travel Solutions provides smart marketing, sales and management tools with facilities for hotel and flight reservation packages, tours, transfers and car rentals.
Offshore operations deliver fringe benefits which Open Destinations promotes through its Goa development and outsourcing centre in India to reduce costs for travel businesses. New XML technology and Net Fares open up sales opportunities for tour operators.
One of the largest multinational technology groups in Greece, Intracom IT Services has just been awarded 40% of a massive eCustoms contract by the EU, worth 28 billion euros for the extension of the Internal Market. Intracom enables any travel website to be transferred into a front line online system.
TouristWay Software Engineering believes that selling travel means providing new experiences through web solutions for online tourism which equip tour operators with instant responses and updated information for online selling.
A hotel industry first from TravelCLICK aims to enhances hotels’ Internet presence through next generation Internet advertising capabilities of new search technology that continuously optimises key word selection for hotels and tracks direct campaign revenues.
The tour operator of today is faced with many challenges – not least a fast-changing and diversifying travel industry where clients demand specialised itineraries and yet expect a quick response. Margins are tightening, prompting increased focus on specific sectors, yet requiring more flexibility.
GlobeTrack offers a complete travel management system that addresses these and other business issues by enabling firms to process complex itineraries at great speed. GlobeTrack makes business 60% more efficient, with employees working remotely and managers controlling on the move.
Another business management system provider, RedSkyIT, has partnerships with ntl, Telewest, Worldspan, Sabre and Galileo as a leading supplier of technology systems in the UK and Ireland. The company’s travel solutions find thousands of flights and holidays in seconds.
Hundreds of travel industry websites are powered by ComtecTransaction Centre. These innovative software and communications solutions enhance the effectiveness of travel distribution for high street travel agents, travel call centres, e-commerce distribution, and tour operators like First Choice Retail.
Automating business processes is a sound way to run an operation. Final Quadrant Solutions offers cutting edge software solutions to automate business operations which decrease costs and increase revenue. ‘ERP in a Box’ (enterprise resource planning) solutions are for mid-sized agencies.
Galor Systems and Software has implemented its product, Gilboa, in most Israeli travel agencies, speeding up the reservation process and increasing online sales, while reducing paperwork and maximising automation. Galor is launching its latest online travel management solution at WTM.
Specialist technology features like user diaries, group rooming list systems and child age policies per product have made Tourplan the No. 1 worldwide for 10 years. Tourplan’s integrated operational accounting package enables users to handle groups, FIT’s, packages, ad hoc itineraries and series tours.
CodeGen designs and builds innovative cost effective solutions for airlines, cruise suppliers, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agencies and web portals. The flagship TravelBox can manage inventories and yields, create product rich packages and adapt multi-channel global business strategies quickly.
Part of the billion pound Vertical Group and the ‘Virtual Travel Agency’, TARSC helps travel agencies and operators to do business online. With over 400 customers in 1500 agency locations, TARSC powers over 500 travel websites transacting over £1.5 billion UK travel revenues.
Providing website design for effective online sales that incorporate front and backend solutions, WebSource Europe provides integrated solutions for travel enterprises to address changing market dynamics of the travel industry. These are based on practical experiences of the travel domain.
Building hotels’ Internet sales through its technology engine is the mantra of FastBooking which provides global Internet development to hoteliers. The technology saves hotels time with enquiries, helps boost visibility on major travel operators websites and offers hoteliers distribution opportunities.
An additional online sales channel is what TravelRes offers hotels. It aims to increase hotels’ profits through binding online reservations, integrated CRS and its 30 million monthly page views. It provides 180,000 hotels worldwide online with 1.2 million clients, including travel sites and agencies in Europe.
Based in Venice, Netplan offers innovative tools to create business opportunities for hotels. Nozio offers web tools and technology to minimise hotel marketing budgets and make hotels more visible online using maps and 360 videos, web pages, graphics, site hosting, domains and search engines.
Web-based price intelligence is RateGain’s offering to hotels. The HotelGain solution provides rate tracking and rate monitoring to supply information on variances in competitive prices. For online travel agents the system means knowing the competition’s prices on star rating and citywide data.
Part of Sabre Holdings, Synxis is the undisputed industry leader in distribution management services and technology with over 7,000 properties worldwide using its products. Synxis claims to create more revenue for hotels by driving the right customers to them at the right time and the right price.
The travelling backpacker is represented by Hostelsclub.com who provide a one-stop shop for their accommodation needs, using an online portal with an online engine for searching and booking destinations worldwide.
Boasting 11 million searches every month, Teletext Holidays offers overseas, UK, accommodation and flight packages on TV and online. It has 3.3 million monthly unique users and the company’s digital text on ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Freeview gives access to 12.5 million digital homes.
Minding the Money
Cards over the Internet, by phone, mail order or interactive TV are growing at 50% per annum in transaction volumes. Travelocity, Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile are all customers of payment processing and card fraud prevention expert, Retail Decisions, Thomas Cook also uses ReD for fraud protection and card authorisation services for its call centres.
Dealing with foreign currency is a major headache for many travel businesses but Custom House’s expertise in simplifying foreign currency transactions, foreign currency drafts, international wire transfers and global online payments solutions eases the burden.
TravelMole’s website boasts the largest global online community for the travel and tourism industry with 8.5 million hits each month and 7.1 million emails of news wires broadcast globally each month. The WTM TravelMole Technology Awards will be presented on the World Stage at WTM on Wednesday, 8 November at 15.00 hours.
Other exhibitors include Thompsons Africa, E-Clear (UK) plc and Spot Local.