De-racking a ‘virtual’ certainty with Global

The Global Travel Group is working on a process which will allow it to virtually de-rack tour operators.

Faced with the threat of dwindling commissions from operators and competition from online agencies, Global has bought the rights to live search software from technology giant Comtec which will enable it to tailor the way search data is presented to members.

Global agents will be able to see prices from operators linked into the software as well as the 14 million dynamically packaged holidays Global has access to.

Crucially, the technology will be used as a weapon against tour operators who threaten reduced commissions. Those who do can be deleted from the system at the touch of a button.

Global Travel Group chief executive Andrew Botterill said: “When an agent threatens to physically de-rack a tour operator’s brochures, it doesn’t mean anything because that product will still appear in the global distribution systems. And if the price is right, it will get sold.

“But if we control the distribution and tailor the data for our purposes, we can include or exclude tour operators.” Botterill said the big four vertically integrated groups rely on companies such as Comtec to distribute inventory to the retail travel trade, but no group has any control over who is displayed first unless they alter their prices.

“With this system, we decide who appears in the holiday search data and in what order,” he said. He declined to reveal how much Global paid for the rights to Comtec’s technology, called APIs or Application Interfaces, but it forms part of the group’s £1.5 million three-year strategy to offset shrinking remuneration from suppliers.

“When we get it completely right it will be the most powerful selling system in the industry,” said Botterill, who will demonstrate the technology to trade partners over the coming weeks and eventually roll it out to the entire industry.

Global founder George Begg came up with the idea a year ago and the group’s call centre has been using the technology for the past six months.

“If the independent sector could manipulate this data, you would see a different tour operator negotiation.

“Operators only do what they do because they can. This will give the power to the retailer, not the supplier,” added Botterill.

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