Q&A: Vivek Katheriya at Traveltek Group Ltd

Q&A: Vivek Katheriya at Traveltek Group Ltd

Traveltek is a technology provider for the global travel industry and in Q4 2017, opened a Middle East headquarters in Dubai. The UK company’s regional sales manager for India and MENA, Vivek Katheriya, explains why the time is right for Traveltek to introduce the region’s travel trade to its world-leading solutions.

 

Why does the Middle East travel industry need Traveltek?

The region’s travel and tourism industry has never been so buoyant, contributing 3.3% of GDP (US$81.4 billion) in 2016, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Marrakech, Mecca, Riyadh and Tehran are the Middle East’s top performing cities in terms of the industry’s GDP contribution and this trend looks set to continue.

Dubai is the largest tourism city by market size within the region and is a significant global hub for business and leisure travel. It accounts for a majority of travel and tourism GDP for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), rising from 5.9% in 2006 to 9.4% in 2016, with larger contribution increases forecast over the next decade.

With billions of dollars being pumped into travel and tourism-related infrastructure across the Gulf region alone and new mega developments, ranging from leisure attractions and new cruise facilities to the world’s largest airport, the movement of travellers in and out of the Middle East continues to grow at a rapid rate.

In order to keep pace with demand, the region’s travel companies – including retail travel agents, OTAs, tour operators, wholesalers and cruise agents – require sophisticated technology to help them sell more effectively and drive efficiencies.

Booking and packaging leisure and cruise travel remains quite a manual process for many travel companies in the region, some of whom rely on the time-consuming process of using the online platforms of each individual supplier.

Traveltek offers advanced solutions that are new to the market, enabling travel companies to access live content from more than 300 suppliers through one single API and then dynamically package each component to create a complex itinerary – all on one platform.

This is new to the Middle East, which is why Traveltek believes its technology will be game-changing for the region.

 

What benefits do Traveltek’s dynamic packaging solutions deliver to the region’s travel companies?

Traveltek’s dynamic packaging solutions promise the Middle East travel industry a more efficient way of selling leisure travel, enabling travel professionals to hand-pick every component of a travel itinerary and sell it as one package, including flights, hotels, cruise, tours, transfers, car rental, attractions tickets and more.

These itineraries are searched for and booked on one integrated platform in the currency and language they choose and can then be customised with company branding, presenting the customer with attractive and professionally-presented documentation.

Our technology empowers travel companies to take customer service standards to new heights. Travel professionals are no longer bogged down by lengthy search and booking processes so they have more time to focus on what matters – looking after their clients and using their knowledge and skills to enhance their experience.

It is this approach to business that will set companies apart in a competitive marketplace that is thriving, but sorely lacking this type of technology.

 

What’s special about your cruise technology?

Cruise technology is Traveltek’s forte and is new to the Middle East market. Our cruise dynamic packaging solution presents multiple flight, hotel and transfer options to agents’ customers after they have selected their cruise.

Taking this one step further, our Cruise Super Itineraries (CSI) enables bookers to dynamically package pre- and post-cruise itineraries including multiple components – flights, hotels, transfers, attractions and more. This tailor-made approach allows their expertise to shine – they curate the package demonstrating their expertise and knowledge and our technology does the rest.

We provide access to more than 190 cruise lines through our API, offering live availability and pricing. This eliminates the need for agents to search each individual cruise line’s website.

We offer rich cruise content too, providing in-depth detail on product, from cabin grades to their location on the deck, which is a great selling tool.

We made several enhancements to our solutions at the end of 2017, unveiling our next-generation booking platform, CruiseNX. It offers travel and cruise specialists a wide range of enhanced capabilities designed to drive productivity and enhance the user experience and is available for desktop and as a new B2C website journey.

From a more streamlined booking process and the ability to book multiple cabins in one search journey, to fast filtering that helps agents find the ideal cruise based on their customer’s preferences and profile, CruiseNX is designed to transform the way the industry sells cruise.

It gives travel companies in the region a real competitive edge, particularly when you consider the rate at which the cruise sector is growing. A record 27.2 million passengers are expected to take a cruise in 2018, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

This compares to 25.8 million in 2017 and represents a 20.5% increase in passenger volume over the last five years (from 2011). The Middle East region’s biggest cruise hub, Dubai, is on track to achieve its target of one million cruise tourists by 2020, buoyed by major investment in new ports and cruise terminals, as well as major tourist attractions.

The emirate’s 2017-2018 cruise season is now well under way and expected to be the emirate’s busiest yet, with at least 115 luxury cruise ships operated by 22 cruise lines expected to berth at Mina Rashid’s Dubai Cruise Terminal, delivering more than 650,000 passengers to the city’s shores.

 

What are the main benefits your technology can deliver to the region’s tour operators?

Traveltek’s solutions tick all the right boxes for tour operators. Our technology enables them to take total control of their sales distribution, expand their market reach, enhance the customer experience, boost in-house productivity and drive multi-channel sales — all on one integrated platform.

Key features also include the ability to package and professionally merchandise land-only and air-and-land holidays for agents and consumers using net airfares and accommodation and applying the relevant pricing, sales channel and booking rule management.

Our system also connects to a selection of data feeds for product inventory including those provided by third parties and includes inventory management capabilities.

 

What has been the local travel industry’s response to Traveltek?

Travel businesses in the region are eager to learn how Traveltek’s advanced technology can help them maximise distribution channels and sales and improve their competitiveness.

Potential clients are very interested in our cruise packaging tools; our API – because of the live pricing and availability; and our platform’s multi-channel and multi-currency functionality.

They are also impressed that we offer customer support services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Traveltek has 20 years of industry experience and provides solutions for several big industry names including Virgin Holidays, Flight Centre and dnata, as well as its sister companies, Imagine Cruises and Global Travel Group, which gives clients confidence that we are a reliable technology partner.

Companies are also asking us to help them establish an online presence, based on our experience transforming small retail operations into e-commerce successes.

Traveltek provides a full end-to-end solution for multiple products and multi-channel sales options – B2B, B2C, call centre, mobile, etc. We also offer a back-office system that produces bookings reports and client documentation and a CRM that manages clients and enquiries.

Finally, our technology facilitates secure online transactions, which is crucial in a region where OTAs are yet to realise their full potential.

 

What are Traveltek’s target markets across the Middle East?

Our main target markets are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman – countries where travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers in are in need of sophisticated travel technology to help them meet growing demand for leisure and cruise travel.

Traveltek’s sales team is currently meeting with many big-name travel companies across the region to explain and demonstrate how our technology can transform the way they do business.

They will also be attending this year’s Arabian Travel Market, which takes place in Dubai from April 22-25. Our Global Sales Director, Peter Whittle, will be a panelist at the ‘Sea of Change’ seminar session, which will discuss how the travel trade can make the most of the Middle East’s outbound cruise market.

 

 

Jill Sayles
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Jill Sayles
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