Computer Says “Go”

20th December 2018 -

Traveltek’s Chris Brown on how technology can keep agents on the right side of the Package Travel Regulations.

Following the swift introduction of the Package Travel Regulations six months ago, a review is scheduled for the New Year. Traveltek product manager Chris Brown assesses the importance of a robust software system so agents don’t fall foul of the law.

“A robust travel technology system that’s equipped to deal with changes and requirements is vital so that agents can be alerted when a booking may be subject to the new rules under the Package Travel Regulations.

The Background

The Package Travel Regulations were introduced six months ago in response to technological innovation within the travel sector, with more businesses using dynamic packaging (DP) to personalise holidays by combining travel services from multiple suppliers.

Before the revised Package Travel Regulations came into effect, there was much ambiguity about who was responsible if a service supplier failed, and concern that not all holidays offered consumers the same level of protection. Under new Package Travel Regulations, more holidays have become ‘packages’ and more people who book holidays online through travel sites enjoy the same rights as those who book with a traditional travel agent.

What’s Changed?

Providers are now required to give better information to travellers, making it clear what their rights to refund are. In addition, the regulations make online sites that enable consumers to put travel packages together responsible for the entire holiday, even if services are performed by third parties.

The updated rules do pose challenges to travel companies who use DP booking tools to create what’s now seen as a ‘package’ and, unless the booker is acting as the retailer on behalf of another supplier, their company will be considered the package provider. This means customers can claim directly with the booker for a refund or an alternative option if something isn’t provided or isn’t as expected.

Who’s Affected?

This new directive mainly affects those companies who previously sold packages under the ‘Flight Plus’ model. Now that companies who provide such services will be seen as the ‘package organiser’, they may be required to take on additional responsibilities, such as holding their own ATOL. New ATOL certificates have been introduced to reflect the new bonding types which include ATOL single contract packages, ATOL multi contract packages, Flight Only and Flight Inclusive Day Trips.

Documentation

The new legislation has a much more detailed list of documentation that must be provided to a customer before and after a sale is concluded. Moreover, there is now more flexibility relating to what the traveller can amend to their booking and there’s widened scope for termination of a package.

It’s important that all front-line agents are able to be notified when a booking may be subject to the new regulations and IT systems can offer practical solutions, such as simplifying documentation stipulations requirement by giving the system admin the option to build in specific wording and templates.

For example, all the information listed in Schedule 1 of the legislation can be programmed to automatically pull from the selling system into any quote an agent sends to a client before the conclusion of the sale. Helpfully, these quotes can also be generated when required for a client using a B2C website.

Amendments and Refunds

When it comes to amendments and refunds, a particularly useful feature is an audit trail function that tracks any movement within the portfolio. This allows a system user to generate a document to show all amendments, cancellations and refunds, which is time- and date-stamped and can’t be edited.

The new regulations state that, when termination occurs and a refund is due, this refund must take place no later than 14 days after termination. One way to comply is to make refunds directly from the back-office system, provided that the platform has an integrated payment gateway.

Another helpful feature gives users the ability to generate and auto-populate receipts for the client via the system, saving them a lot of time and effort compared to manual processes.

Finally, selling systems can be configured in such a way that they recognise the new package types and notify the user when a booking may be subject to the new regulations. This can be done within financial controls and system administration rules.

Enhancements to Traveltek Platform

We made significant changes prior to the implementation of the Package Travel Regulations to ensure that all of these features became part and parcel of the Traveltek platform.

In terms of the core changes to the system, we removed the rules engine that powers the Flight Plus Matrix in the platform to prevent any agent from being able to select this as a bonding type and added new configurations within our system administration suite to allow agents to bond and flag bookings as Multi-Contract Packages.

We also created a configurable window entitled POS Window that acts as the same time Point of Sale transaction and keeps the booking open for a stipulated amount of time. In addition, we incorporated all of the new ATOL certificates into the system.

Volume of Bookings

The number of DP bookings made through our platform has actually been very stable since the introduction of Package Travel Regulations, but we have noticed a change in the way smaller agents are handling DP bookings and where agents are buying their DP products from. Many smaller agents had no desire to take on the additional costs and risks, both financially and operationally and are now choosing to put their DP business through larger tour operators that are willing to take on the risks of being package organisers, but who can still offer them DP booking portals to meet the requirements of their customers.

As a result of the extremely short implementation period, there have been some areas of the legislation that have led to confusion amongst the travel community, such as the exemption of business travel; the ambiguity surrounding ‘point of sale’ and civil enforcement.

A review is scheduled for January 2019, but I expect that another review will be necessary later in the year to provide a full picture of how the new regulations are impacting both consumers and travel businesses.”

What Is a Travel API and How Can It Help Your Business?

14th December 2018 -

Travel APIs have taken off in a big way in recent years, but what, exactly, is a travel API? More importantly, how can it help your travel brand?

In simple terms, APIs or Application Programming Interfaces allow developers to connect networks, individual devices, and information streams. Travel APIs provide access to desired travel content such as flights, hotels, transfers, payment gateways and many more. This includes shop and book, payment, rich content and branding.

Traveltek provides the travel trade with a wide range of API services that both provide valuable content and deliver consolidated super itineraries.

Why Use an API?

Utilising APIs can undoubtedly provide value to travel agency brands; there are a few key benefits that make their use a no-brainer for travel businesses looking to provide a more dynamic user experience.

  • Reduction of operational costs – using an API can save travel businesses significant time and resource, both in terms of development and maintenance and in man-hours for operational staff. For many companies, cost reduction opportunities are to be found in the elimination of manual activities. For example, time spent by staff manually sourcing flight details or hotel information for clients can quickly add up while using an API to deliver the relevant information negates this.
  • Increase speed to market – an API can help to cut lengthy development processes. Using modern, open and well documented APIs can help you get to market quicker by consuming structured data via easy to use methods. This means you can focus upon delivering great user experience to clients and travellers, rather than getting stalled by technical complexity.
  • Enhancing your reputation – a simple one; the better the user experience for your customers, the more likely they are to speak positively on their experience and return for their next trip. Using APIs can ensure you provide travellers with all the information they need, in one place.

With more leisure travel suppliers integrated than any other platform on the market, Traveltek’s API provides you with a huge amount of power, allowing you to harness the strength of our award-winning booking platform and integrate it with your own system.

With over 300 suppliers integrated, Traveltek’s API empowers you to do more business. From the world’s biggest travel suppliers to local, niche providers, you’ll have access to the industry’s largest community of buyers and sellers worldwide.

Traveltek Continues its Winning Streak at the World Travel Awards 2018

4th December 2018 -

The Scotland-based technology specialist has been crowned World’s Leading Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider at the World Travel Awards 2018, prolonging its reign for a fifth year

The Award 

The award recognises Traveltek’s reservation platform, iSell; an integrated travel management system that enables travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers to sell, create and manage their entire travel portfolio from one single, secure, web-based solution. This technology allows travel professionals to search for and book every facet of a customised travel itinerary – from cruises and flights to hotels, transfers and other ancillary products – then sell them as one single package.

Traveltek’s unrivalled product portfolio also includes consumer facing websites, a CRM and mid-office system; a tour operating platform and an API that connects the industry’s largest network of buyers and sellers worldwide.

The award marks the end of another remarkable year for Traveltek as it unveiled a restructured and much bolstered sales team, continued its expansion program into new target markets and appointed a new chief operating officer, chief commercial officer and chief technology officer to drive growth in 2019 and beyond.

The Reaction

Chief marketing officer, Susie Lawler, and customer services manager, Dianne Clifford, accepted the award on behalf of the Traveltek team. On receiving the accolade, Lawler highlighted what it means to the company.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have received this award again. We were lucky enough to pick up Europe’s Leading Travel Technology Provider earlier this year and are over the moon to be collecting the Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider award on the World stage, for the 5th year in a row.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have received this award again. We were lucky enough to pick up Europe’s Leading Travel Technology Provider earlier this year and are over the moon to be collecting the Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider award on the World stage, for the 5th year in a row.”

Susie Lawler

“2018 has been a really big year for us, with a lot of change, so it’s fantastic to be recognised for the team’s continued hard work and commitment. In terms of the focus now, it’s about taking the platform to the next level, providing bookers with a more B2C style system, with the same functionality and ease use that was typically reserved for consumers.

“We’re also in the process of finalising a new product, due to launch in the next couple of months, that will be a real industry first. So, it’s a really exciting time for us at the moment; arguably the most monumental in the company’s 20-year history.”

The Competition

Expedia Group, Rezopia and Goquo were amongst the six contenders to battle for the coveted title.

The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 and are recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence. The prestigious Grand Final Gala Ceremony took place at the Pátio da Galé in Lisbon, Portugal and was attended by hundreds of travel, tourism and hospitality professionals from around the globe.