Travel Daily chats with Zohar Kantor, vice president of business development for LogNet Travel, about the services and solutions they offer to the travel industry…
Q) Can you give our readers a brief overview of LogNet and what solutions you offer to the travel industry?
As a company, we were established over 10 years ago as a provider of online self-care solutions. Some of our original customers were within the transportation industry, including airlines, toll roads and similar companies. We helped these service providers establish their online presence and turn Internet-based activities into a significant share of their revenue streams.
In the past number of years we began focusing on the travel vertical. For one of our original airline customers we had deployed online booking capabilities. We have extended these capabilities and applied them to the broader travel industry.
Today, we are helping travel agencies in a similar capacity. Our e-travel solution helps travel companies to build a strong online presence and turn their web sites into major marketing channels and revenue-generating tools. Recently, we began working with Sabre to help bring our solution to the market.
Q) What, in your opinion, are the major challenges facing travel agencies at present and how is LogNet aiming to alleviate them?
Like many industries, there has been a paradigm shift in the travel agency business from physical locations to online. Travel agencies are typically approaching the Internet in one of three ways.
The first approach is to simply ignore the Internet all together. This, of course, we do not recommend. These types of travel agencies often have an established clientele and rely on walk-in traffic to a physical branch for new business. These travel agencies are completely missing out on the marketing potential of the internet and often choose this path because they do not have the capacity to deal with the IT issues of managing a web site.
The second method often used by travel agencies is a limited Internet presence. Here, travel agencies typical have an informational web site, sometimes with pricing information, although booking is handled over the phone instead of the Internet. We see this as a step in the right direction, although in this situation travel agencies are still missing out on the massive benefits of selling over the internet.
The third is a full blown web site with an e-commerce platform for Internet-based selling. These types of travel agents are providing functionality for travellers to perform advanced searches and comparisons, book travel products and process payments. Travel agencies with selling capabilities on their web sites are often using internally developed tools or vendor-based products that are supported by third party IT-companies. Such solutions enable travel agents to market their travel products over the Internet and use their web sites as a major sales channel. However, such websites are often on premise and are expensive to operate and difficult to maintain. Examples of problems that travel agencies often run into in this situation is defining new products and keeping up-to-date with the latest web technologies or changes in customer expectations.
These are familiar experiences for most travel agencies. Our e-travel solution is cloud-based and provides the modern tools for a travel agency to quickly establish and expand an online presence and a revenue-generating mechanism at a fraction of the cost of existing alternatives.
Q) How do your solutions differ from others in the market?
Our e-travel solution is built on a state-of-the-art content management system and an advanced promotion engine. Travel agencies immediately benefit from a modern travel web site with to look-and-feel, navigation and workflows. This promotion engine allows travel agencies to configure customized travel packages, such as targeted promotions for last-minute
travel, seasonal activities, events, destinations, airlines or hotels. It also includes a range of marketing tools to design landing pages, control SEO parameters, adjust prices, issue coupons and discounts, and much more. All this is rather unique, especially compared to the practices currently being used by travel agents.
We also provide connectivity to Sabre’s Global Distribution System. This gives the travel agent seamless connectivity to Sabre’s network of information about hotels, airlines and other travel content.
As a SaaS solution, we allow travel agencies to manage their web sites independently with comfortable subscription agreements. There is no expensive hardware or ongoing maintenance costs. This allows travel agencies to focus on their core competency of marketing and selling travel products.
Q) Mobile is also a major area of growth. How is LogNet equipping travel agencies for this?
There has been a big shift towards mobile devices. This certainly is not limited to just the travel industry and applies to many verticals. Currently, we see that travellers are doing a lot of searches on mobile devices, but are processing orders and payment on their desktops. With small screens on mobile devices and even some tablets, the current generation of travel agency web sites do not offer a full user experience that facilitates the entire decision making and purchasing process.
But, this is shifting rather quickly and we can help travel agencies take advantage of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. We allow a travel agency to optimize the limited real estate available on a mobile device and offer a full user experience. We are talking about searches, comparisons, photos, ranking and customer reviews. These are all important aspects of the user experience and buying decision.
There are a number of large online travel companies that have rolled out good mobile sites and smartphone apps that give this good user experience. Travel agencies regardless of their size will quickly need to offer these and we are here to help.
Q) What are LogNet’s expansion plans?
We are bringing our solution to market through a range of indirect channels. Some of these are local and others are global. We have a strong growing relationship with Sabre. Together, we are addressing a number of local markets and looking to expand globally. We also considering options to sell our solution directly to travel agencies