TravelMole Q&A with Comtec – TravelMole true

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TravelMole Q&A with Comtec

Saturday, 30 Mar, 2007 0

Travel system supplier Comtec Europe has gone mobile with services for agents. In this month’s Travelmole Q&A, chief executive Simon Powell shares his views with Linda Fox on the potential for mobile, the future of package holidays and the latest trends.

Q: We’re hearing a lot about the potential of mobile services for travel – what is your view?

A: Our deal with 2ergo is the next step following developments such as WebView and the ‘myaccount’ functionality where travellers can see their bookings, make payments and print documents. The launch of TravelCat Messaging is not in response to customer demands but it’s us thinking how can we get information straight to the travellers’ devices, cut costs and save time in the way people normally communicate. Ultimately we will sell travel components on phones but what the technology does at the moment is send an e-mail to customers with details on how they can book. What will drive the change is when there is a convergence of in the way websites are written and cut-down versions of websites are available for booking on handheld devices.

Q: It’s has been a busy year so far in terms of consolidation – what do you see happening from a technology standpoint?

A: What we thought was going to happen two years ago, when we bought Travelink, has now happened. There is a total convergence of technology. There is no real difference between tour operators, travel agents or dynamic packagers – everybody has to do a little bit of everything to survive. The web has transformed the way distribution works and how costs are exchanged and all the technology needs to be available in a way that either a consumer or trained agent can use it to make the sale as easy as possible. Applications at the front end need to have the functionality to drive the sale and the business processes behind the scenes.

Q: How do you feel traditional agents are fairing in this rapidly changing world?

A: The ones that are in business today are the ones that have adopted technology and are comfortable with change and moving their business forward. They know they have to differentiate and are actually doing very well. Comtec’s focus is on innovation and investing in what’s around the corner and part of our remit in the industry is to make sure we look at what’s coming for our customers.

Q: What are your views on social media – blogs, podcasts, consumer reviews etc.?

A: They have a massive place in society already and are growing immensely quickly but we have to be a little bit careful especially around reviews of properties. The people who are more likely to bother to take the time to write a review are the ones that have had a bad experience. We have to be a bit aware of the way people are feeling. They have a passion for what is their second or third biggest purchase especially if it does not go well. In general however, the barriers have come down and the sharing of information is what the web is perfect for.

Q: With the increasing trend towards dynamic packaging what kind of future is there for package holidays?

A: The package holiday is here to stay. There is an audience that want it and it has its benefits of being a full-service product. There are many reasons why package holidays will survive but the market must have flexibility and that has been hardest for the traditional tour operators. One of the core reasons was the technology, which is why we bought Travelink – the technology was flexible. Large tour operators are doing about 30% online and that is increasing by a great whack year-on-year but I think that will stop within the next five years. With viewdata there has been a slight drop overall but nothing in terms of what we would have predicted. It’s still absolutely massive and is going to be here in five years time. Why? Because the major tour operators have no reason to reinvest in it because those distribution channels are diminishing anyway. Viewdata is no harm, it’s not expensive any more and it will see a natural decline.


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