Internet Booking Engines – What Are the Benefits to My Business?

30th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

Whatever travel product you’re selling, your business could benefit greatly by incorporating an internet booking engine. Let’s see the advantages that the implementation of an online distribution and booking solution would bring to your company:

24/7 Opportunities

Travellers who decide to rent a car or book a room, an excursion or an activity, don’t want to wait until you’re in the office to help them. They’re looking for an immediate response and confirmation. The use of an online booking engine means that your company is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; an easy way to satisfy the customer from the outset.

Faster and Easier Payments

With an online booking system, any worries related to safe online payment methods are assuaged. The use of secure payment gateways with data encryption builds trust in customers. If you work in a B2B environment, you can also apply different conditions to your sales. There are also booking engines that offer multi-currency modules, which enable you to operate in different currencies, without requiring a sales channel for each one.

Hang up the Phone

Online booking minimises the dropout rate of potential customers, thanks to the fact that all information and booking details are always available. Customers who need to call a company to make a booking often lose patience if they are assisted by answering machines or subjected to awful hold music. In many cases these time-wasting activities become missed business opportunities.

Automation is King

Many travel processes are often dependent on manual intervention which can translate into errors, inaccuracies and duplication of efforts; all of which put pressure on top line sales and business costs. Automating the administrative processes currently performed by your travel agency staff will free them up to do higher-value work, ultimately maximising sales and conversion rates. Internet booking engine systems automatically receive both the booking and all the required customer information. Also, they send the guests automatic emails to confirm the booking and can issue reservation reminders. Finally, such systems can check availability quickly and easily, responding immediately to customer enquiries.

Upselling Opportunities

Using a web-based system offers the possibility of including additional services or products during the online booking process and payment. This way, you get additional ancillary revenue while offering your customers a breadth of choice.

If you’re in the business for a new internet booking engine, it’s important to choose a provider who understands both the market and your business objectives. Traveltek’s flagship booking engine, iSell, offers users the opportunity to sell travel products in the most efficient way possible.

Unlike many travel technology platforms, with iSell there’s no need to jump between systems. The cloud-based platform connects the industry’s largest network of buyers and sellers worldwide with links to over 300 suppliers, including all the major GDS. All travel components are available within B2B, B2C and B2B2C environments. Thanks to a series of XML connections, iSell is automated and fully-integrated, making manual data inputs a thing of the past. Plus, with live pricing and availability, advanced search filters and dynamic packaging tools just some of the numerous benefits of the platform, the system provides travel professionals with the most innovative booking solution on the market.

Traveltek CEO Kenny Picken Announces Departure

24th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

Traveltek founder and long-standing CEO, Kenny Picken, has announced that he will retire from his position in the coming months.

“The System of Choice”

Picken founded Traveltek in 2002 when he noticed a gap in the market for a modular-based system that could help travel companies to operate more efficiently, and more profitably. From there, iSell was born. A system that equips agents and operators with the ability to create highly customised travel itineraries through dynamically packaging a range of flights, hotels, cruise and ancillary travel services in one transaction.

Since then, with just five employees on board at its inception, the company has gone on to become one of the travel industry’s leading software providers. Today, the Glasgow head-quartered firm, which now employs more than 130 staff and has offices in key locations across the world, has over 400 clients, operating across 35 countries, transacting in excess of $11 billion in booking value through its platform each year.

Speaking of his decision, Mr Picken, said: “When we first set out, our ambition was to become ‘the system of choice’ within the UK. Fairly soon thereafter we had accomplished that, and more. Based on the success of the platform, I knew there was scope for us to grow the business further, on a global scale. It was that realisation that led me to take on investment from equity partners YFM back in 2016.

“Ambitious Expansion Plan”

“Since then, we’ve been pursuing a very ambitious expansion plan. And two years on, we’ve undergone a sizeable transformation, particularly in the last twelve months. We now have an entirely new senior management team at the helm. And YFM are still on-board too, which I think is a great sign of their commitment to the company’s continued success.

“We’ll be looking to appoint a new CEO in the coming months and at that point, I’ll step down. Our newly appointed Chairman, Chris Noblet, will remain on the board following my departure and will assume operational control until such time as my successor is up and running.”

Kenny continued: “Of course, Traveltek will always have a place in my heart. I will retain a significant interest in the company following my departure, so I can’t wait to see how the tech develops. But, equally, I’m looking forward to being able to take my foot off the gas and to let someone else take the reins. While my last day will undoubtedly be a sad one, I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

“Nothing Short of Remarkable”

Chris Noblet, a recently appointed Chairman, said: “The business that Kenny Picken has grown, from a standing start, is nothing short of remarkable. He identified that there was a more efficient way for travel businesses to manage their operations and he set about building a software solution to suit; a solution that is now adopted by many of the industry’s leading firms.

“Kenny Picken has been the driving force and the personality of the business for a long time and he’ll be missed by myself and by all of the team at HQ and across our international hubs. Kenny will remain active in his role whilst we search for a new CEO, to ensure a smooth hand-over.

“On behalf of everyone at Traveltek, I would like to thank Kenny Picken for his tremendous hard work and dedication, without which the company certainly wouldn’t be where it is today. Suffice is to say, it won’t be the same place without him. That said, the strength and commitment of the team Kenny is leaving behind is perfectly placed to assume the mantle and it’s full steam ahead this year to elevate the company to headier heights.”

Cruise: A Travel Anomaly

18th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

In many ways, cruise is a bit of an oddity within the travel industry. While more travellers are turning to digital sources to book their travel, in cruise, distribution is predominantly managed offline. Phocuswright’s U.S. Online Travel Overview 2018 predicts online penetration for air/hotel/ancillary travel services will increase from 50% in 2018 to 53% in 2022 whereas online bookings account for just 20% of overall cruise revenue, split about half and half between cruise line websites and intermediary websites.

But the reliance on agents doesn’t seem to be a negative factor. Quite the contrary. While both air and lodging markets are growing, the cruise industry is outperforming all others. According to Phocuswright’s U.S. Cruise and Packaged Travel 2018 report, the cruise segment in the United States jumped 10% in 2018, its third consecutive year of double-digit gains. We see this trend  in other countries globally, with the UK showing a 5% growth between 2017 and 2018 and Asia showing a whopping 20.5% increase in the same time period, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). And the industry still has substantial headroom for growth. CLIA reports that 26.7 million people cruised in 2017 – and that number is expected to reach 30 million in 2019.

Growing fleet 

The combination of these impressive growth statistics and the fact that most ships operate at nearly 100% capacity, gives cruise lines the confidence to believe that if they build it, travellers will board it. All major lines are adding to their fleets, with a steady supply of ships due to set sail in the next few years. In 2019 alone, about two dozen new berths are scheduled.

Travel technology specialist, Traveltek, takes a closer look at cruise distribution to understand not only the ways in which the industry remains dependant on agents, but also to uncover the developments in the online space that would suggest that the tides might be changing.

Agent Edge

Ask anyone doing work related to the cruise industry about the sector’s reliance on offline, agent-assisted bookings and you’ll likely hear a similar explanation: booking a cruise can be a very complex process, with multiple layers of decisions involved. And with each new mega-ship setting sail, the options can be overwhelming. Years ago, there were only a few cabin categories with the main decision coming down to whether you wanted the early or late dinner sitting. Now, you can compare a cruise booking to reserving flights, hotels, activities, entertainment and meals all in one go; a task with which you could certainly require some help.

Complicating the decision process is the fact that the majority of consumers are not familiar with the cruise products. Only 24% of the U.S. population has ever taken a cruise, and in 2017, first-time cruisers made up 31% of the UK and Ireland market.

This inexperience explains the continuing reliance on the agent as source of expertise.

Making Waves

However, there are some signs of a change, albeit a much slower evolution in distribution processes and habits than in other sectors of travel.

Statistics globally suggest that the average age of cruisers is decreasing year on year and with a younger market and a vast pool of first-time cruisers, a number of big players within the cruise industry are noticing that an increasing number of customers are using the web to research and filter. For this reason, it’s more important than ever that cruise businesses offer a content-rich website, providing travellers with the information they are looking for at their fingertips.

“In order to succeed within this competitive market, it’s clear that cruise distributors must be aware of this shift towards online platforms when it comes to researching cruise,” says Kenny Miller, CTO at Traveltek.

“Here at Traveltek, we predicted this move and created a unique cruise booking engine that offers consumers a vast array of content, updated on a daily basis. With everything from comprehensive cruise line and ship descriptions, to detailed cabin information and supporting images to bring the product to life, our software gives the modern cruiser the guidance they are looking for and maximises cruise selling opportunities for cruise lines.”

End-to-End Online Bookings 

Moreover, many in the cruise industry believe that, sooner or later, cruisers will be comfortable booking end-to-end online, provided that agents and cruise lines have the correct technology in place. Artificial intelligence, such as chatbots, could prove to be a game changer within the cruise industry, allowing potential cruisers the opportunity to remain within the online space, but still seek advice from a (seemingly) human source.

Traveltek are again ahead of the competition in this sphere, being one of the few technology companies to provide travel specialists with a B2C advanced packaging and booking module. This software gives users the opportunity to tailor-make their own unique cruise packages, displaying the results on a B2C website as one single package price with a streamlined booking process. When you combine this functionality with Traveltek’s unrivalled content of 190+ ocean and river cruise lines, plus multi-currency and multi-language capabilities, the technology experts are taking a major leap forward in helping the industry drive more cruise sales via all distribution channels.

Miller highlights that, while there should be a focus towards fine-tuning cruise packaging and booking software to suit an online audience, it’s also important, while the demand for agent assistance remains, to ensure that the technology used by agents is fit for purpose.

“The software Traveltek has to offer is so advanced that, not only does it equip travel and cruise specialists with the tools necessary to capitalise on the emerging digital disposition of cruisers, it also gives front-line agents the flexibility to use their own expertise to provide customers with a complex, personalised cruise itinerary in seconds.”

SVP Sales Americas, Francis Riley, Leaves Traveltek Following a Company Restructure

16th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

Travel technology company, Traveltek, has announced a further restructure of its sales team, resulting in the departure of travel industry veteran Francis Riley who had held the position of SVP Sales Americas since January last year.

Full Restructure

As part of this move, Traveltek has promoted Cressida Sergeant to Chief Commercial Officer. Sergeant,  was initially appointed as Senior Vice President EMEA back in August last year. She had previously held senior positions with Expedia, TravelSupermarket.com, Lastminute.com and The Global Travel Group. Cressida has now has assumed responsibility for the firms growing sales team, supplier relations and account management with immediate effect.

In the 12 months that Riley was in the role, the travel technology company saw a significant increase in the number of new clients purchasing its award-winning booking software in North America; more than doubling the previous year’s sales revenues.

New Opportunities 

Commenting on his decision to leave, Francis Riley, former Senior Vice President International Sales, Marketing and Operations at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and well-known cruise identity, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Traveltek and the challenge of working in a very different sector of the travel industry. I’m proud of what the team and I have achieved over the last 12 months and feel that the time is now right for me to pass on the baton and look for my next new opportunity.”

Kenny Picken, CEO at Traveltek, added: “In the last few months, we’ve completely re-structured the senior management team. We’ve brought in a new Chief Operating Officer to take on the day-to-day running of the business.

“Our new COO, Phil Astall, joins our also recently appointed and highly experienced CTO, Kenny Millar. Cressida Sergeant has proved herself to be a tremendous asset to the business in a very short space of time and her appointment to CCO is testament to that.

“We have ambitious growth plans and, while not without it’s challenges, I think it’s a really exciting time for the business and everyone involved. Suffice is to say that we have an extremely strong team at the helm.

“I’d like to thank Francis Reilly for all his hard work and for the instrumental part he played in helping us to accelerate growth in the US. Myself and all the team at Traveltek wish him all the very best.”

Traveltek Announces the Appointment of New Chief Operating Officer

11th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

New Year, New Chief Operating Officer for booking software specialist Traveltek as CEO Kenny Picken announces the appointment of seasoned travel sector director Phil Astall.

The company’s founder and CEO, Kenny Picken, said: “There’s little doubt that the business is on a journey at the moment. Perhaps the most exciting in its 20-year history.

Global Expansion

“Pursuing a global expansion plan is not without its challenges for any travel technology company. However, to be the very best in class, we have to constantly strive to push ourselves; to improve, to innovate and to excel in all disciplines we undertake. So, it’s with that in mind that I’m delighted to announce the appointment of our new COO, Phil Astall.

“Phil has a wealth of experience in operational delivery and, crucially, in dealing with the challenges facing us as we work to take our company on to headier heights. Phil has already successfully assumed responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business and makes an excellent addition to our ever-strengthening team.

“Together with his colleague, Cressida Sergeant, who I’m delighted to report has now taken on the role of Chief Commercial Officer, this new leadership team will spearhead our ambitious plans for growth.”

Industry Professional 

Phil is a seasoned industry professional with a 15-year career spent delivering significant improvements to business performance, revenue and customer success. He joins Traveltek from Expedia where he spent the last six years, latterly in the role of Global Senior Director.

Prior to joining Expedia, Phil spent over nine years working for Thomson Reuters; during the majority of which he held the role of Lead Software Developer. Phil has enjoyed a diverse and varied career and has established himself as a dynamic and accomplished leader with strong technical, operational and commercial acumen.

He has a proven track record in building, managing and maintaining effective and collaborative relationships with key stakeholders, clients and business partners alike. All of which he will be relying on as he embarks on the latest path in his career.

Phil commented: “I am delighted to be joining this prominent travel technology company at such an exciting time. Traveltek’s reservation platform leads the industry. It has more suppliers integrated than any other system on the market and offers travel businesses a truly unique proposition that they can’t get elsewhere. The challenge now is to bring this software to a wider-audience.

“Operationally, the main focus for me initially is on enhancing the tech that we already have; looking at how we can improve our existing product and sharpen up internal processes to help us better manage output.

“Beyond that, it’s about identifying problem areas for businesses, in terms of finding gaps in the market that no other travel technology company currently caters for. In terms of development, the talent at Traveltek is phenomenal. The opportunities for growth are endless if we get things right. So, it’s full steam ahead.”

Traveltek Prioritises ‘Booming’ Indian Travel Market

8th January 2019 - Glasgow, UK

Leading British travel technology developer Traveltek is eyeing opportunities to grow in the Indian travel market, taking advantage of the country’s booming travel sector.

Travolution Asian Summit

The Glasgow-based supplier of selling systems to travel agents and tour operators is supporting this month’s Travolution Asian Summit that will take place in Delhi on January 15.

The event, a first for Travolution, will take place ahead of the major SATTE travel show in the Indian city. It features top drawer speakers from western and Asian markets.

Speakers include Deep Kalra, chairman and group chief executive of Make My Trip, Neelu Singh, chief operating officer of Ezeego, Kei Shibata, chief executive of Venture Republic and Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and chief executive of Yatra.

Cressida Sergeant, Traveltek chief commercial officer, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Travolution Asian Summit in New Delhi.

Growth Opportunities

“The growth in the Indian Travel Market is phenomenal so we’re looking forward to the keynote sessions, in particular, which I’m sure will give us some really invaluable insight into the country’s booming market.

“When you consider that the travel sector in India accounted for eight per cent of the total employment opportunities generated in the country in 2017 – some 41.6 million people, according to the IBEF – the size of the potential opportunity for a business like ours can’t be overstated.

“India is also one of the most digitally-advanced nations in terms of the tools being used for planning and booking trips, while India’s rising middle class and increasing disposable incomes has continued to support the growth of domestic and outbound tourism.

“So, it’s the perfect time for us to be prioritising the area in terms of our expansion strategy. Our dynamic packaging booking solution – which is the world’s leading platform – is the perfect fit for travel businesses looking to make the most of the current boom in demand.

“It helps travel companies work faster and more efficiently to boost sales and profits. It also connects the leisure travel industry’s largest network of buyers and sellers worldwide so offers businesses some really significant benefits, that they can’t access elsewhere.

“I’m sure the event is going to be a great success and we’re delighted to be part of it.”

Boost Ancillary Revenue via Dynamic Packaging

4th January 2019 -

Dynamic packaging is a relatively new method of travel reservation that has become an increasingly popular piece of functionality in today’s modern booking systems. The ability to combine airline reservations with a hotel, cruise or tour has emerged as a major revenue source for anyone selling travel today. This extends the process from simply selling a flight to selling the entire holiday experience. For certain travel markets such as cruise and tour operation, dynamic packaging is essential in order to provide a streamlined and complete itinerary. Creating a dynamic package is also paramount for the millennial traveller who wants customised experiences.

Key Functionality

Traveltek’s Product Manager, Chris Brown, shares some key functionality that any travel company looking to move into dynamic packaging should expect from their software system.

“Today’s technology solutions should allow a user to easily compare multiple options including individual components and pre-built packages. Additionally, a robust rules engine can help to deliver the right marketing messages and inform the user of all promotions on offer. Price adjustments to a product need to be able to be made automatically and quickly to maintain competitiveness in the online market.

“When it comes to user experience, rich content should be integrated in the search process in order to simplify the whole shopping experience. Users should be able to choose the components they need and dynamically create a custom package.

“Systems should offer helpful features such as a pre-defined list of hotels that match a flight itinerary. A database that maps the closest hotels to each airport or city location eliminates the guesswork and can match the hotel and flights based on the search defined. All through the process, the total price of the package being built should be clearly visible to the user, creating a day by day itinerary for easy review.

Consumer and Agent Focus 

“Finally, it’s important that dynamic packaging systems are tailored to work both for the consumer and for the agent. They should be configured in such a way to provide agents the ability to save a package as a quote to be repriced at a later time to further simplify their workflow. It should track detailed financials, providing an agency owner the details of what the customer owes and also what the agency owes to its suppliers. The financial details captured should also allow the agency to track their margins by product and by package.”

Archaic manual applications made the dynamic packaging process laborious and tedious. However, modern, automated systems simply the process, eliminating any risk associated with human intervention.

Finding a booking system with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a partner in technology that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer with the content they are looking for is also just as important.

If you want to get into the dynamic packaging market, contact Traveltek and discover how our technology can transform your business. Having won the title of ‘World’s Leading Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider’ for the last five consecutive years, we’ll ensure that you get it right first time.