Orchestra looks to bring some French tech flair to the UK travel industry

Orchestra looks to bring some French tech flair to the UK travel industry

French travel technology software firm Orchestra is poised to make its first concerted push into international markets, with the UK high on its list.

Andrew Nicholson, most recently of Wex and previously managing director of Amadeus-owned TravelTainment, has been appointed director of business development.

In France, Orchestra works with a number of well-known on and offline travel retailers, including travel agent consortium, Selectour Afat, GoVoyage, Edreams/Opodo, Vente Privee and Ebookers.

However, in recent years it has also started to pick up customers in overseas markets and currently has two in the UK: VeryChic and SharmDirect. It is also targeting Spain for growth.

Paris-based Orchestra was established in 2000, it now has 30 clients accounting for £600 million worth of sales. It turned over £6 million last year.

Christian Sabbagh, Orchestra founder and chief executive, said: “We think there is a need in the UK for something that covers a lot of functions but that also fits in with existing systems.

“We want to target players with operations in the UK who would like to expand in France. This is not impossible without our technology, but we make it easier for them.”

Orchestra offers package, dynamic package, back office and front office solutions via individual modules.It claims to be fully adaptable to the UK travel market and already is linked to many key suppliers, although more content connections are expected to be added.

Sabbagh said the other main advantage is that the system is only 10 years old and has been built on a modern architecture.

“If you ask many of the main players [in the UK] are they happy with their systems I do not think all of them would tell you they were.“In France a lot of our customers are using Orchestra because it’s new compared to some systems that are 25 years old. It’s not a 1980s or 1990s concept, it’s all web-based.”

Sabbagh said firms not ready to switch their supplier could take certain modules, whilte those looking to expand overseas might use Orchestra as an easier option than adapting an existing system.

Orchestra operates in Travelsoft as a mutualised platform, meaning all clients benefit from enhancements made to the technology. Every five weeks a new version is rolled out.

Nicholson said: “Internationalisation is inevitable for certain businesses regardless of whether it’s Orchestra enabling that.

“Signing up new customers enables a greater share of technology development that’s shared across our platform. Any new partners might come in with new ideas that may be of benefit for all.

“One of the reasons I have got involved with Orchestra is not only is it a really good tech platform but the apathy tour operators and travel agents have with their existing technology.

“There are an awful lot of businesses out there that are desperate for something different.”

Sabbagh said OTAs were looking for enhanced connectivity with suppliers and a greater degree of automation of services, as well as merchandising functions and yield management.

Lastminute.com uses Orchestra in France for packages, and having made the change in 2011, Sabbagh said the operation has become much more profitable.

He said discussions have started with some UK travel firms and that the firm will be attending this month’s Travel Technology Europe to get word out about the platform.

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