Travel company Gullivers Pacific has established a separate software division to cope with international interest in its Serko travel booking software.
The software was originally designed for use within Auckland-based Gullivers Pacific's own travel agencies, Budget Travel, Signature Travel and Holiday Shoppe, says general manager of business development Kathy O'Connor. However, "we realised that the more people we get using it, the more money there will be to develop it further".
In a deal worth over $NZ1 million, the United Travel Agents' Group (UTAG) in Australia has now chosen the system for its 400 agents, and it has also attracted interest from the US, UK and within New Zealand. "We're working with partners overseas to offer it as a thin-client solution," says O'Connor.
An Australian telco, yet to be named, will operate as an application service provider (ASP) and host the software for UTAG. A "mini" or "leisure" (as opposed to business) version is also available with fewer reporting capabilities but O'Connor says this will only suit the smallest travel agents. "Most people are seeing this as a way to boost productivity and they want state-of-the-art technology."
Serko allows business travel clients to book their own travel online and keep track of travel expenses. The product was developed in Visual Basic and Microsoft C by Access Interactive, a joint company between Gullivers Pacific and Auckland-based development house Interactive Technologies.
Interactive Technologies managing director Darrin Grafton says the product can work with any airline reservation system. Most travel agents only work with one "global distribution system", he says, and changing involves intensive retraining for staff.
"Serko's language translator means the agents are independent and can work with any of the systems, increasing their speed and efficiency by about 30 to 40 per cent."
The airlines were helpful in the development process, he says.
The new Gullivers Pacific division, Access 2000, will be run by general manager Chad Howard. It will offer business analysis of travel agents' IT needs, conversion of existing data, installation and training in using the new system.
As yet, prices have not been finalised but a full version is likely to cost $NZ2000 to $3000 per workstation, per annum, and a mini version from $1500 to $2000.