Intuitive, the Croydon-based developer if the iVector travel tour operating technology, has struck a software licensing deal with former owner Lowcost Travel Group as it continues to focus on UK tour operator clients.
Andy Keeley, the firm’s commercial director, said the move gives Lowcost the greater control over its technology it wanted and represents the growing importance of software licensing for the travel technology specialist.
“Lowcost wanted more control in house and we have given them that ability. We are still providing some services but they have effectively licences the underlining code,” he said.
Lowcost sold its majority stake in Intuitive to private equity investor NVM in 2012.
Following a refocus on the UK, Intuitive has secured some significant recent business wins including Discover The World, Travel Nation and Secret Escapes.
These represent Intuitive’s evolution from its bed bank and OTA origins to now providing full tour operating technology designed to put complex tailor made trips together from multiple product sources.
Keeley said the promise was of one click booking functionality that will automate a time consuming process and enable clients to maximise returns in a sector in which margins are being squeezed.
Keeley said Intuitive’s new clients, plus four more in the pipeline including three in the UK, has given Intuitive the financial stability to allow it to focus on its core UK market and to develop off the shelf solutions.
“We are now in a great place,” Keeley said. “As well as Low Cost we have 35 other customers on the system and a healthy mix of business. Alongside that we have spent the last two years investing in a sector where we can be more off the shelf, offer more licensable software. Also we have to regain some of our reputation for innovation as well. We have new customers and the breathing space to execute that strategy.”
Keeley said it is surprising that tour operator systems still generally cannot handle one click fulfilment in the way that OTAs and bed banks are capable of but he said the challenge was often with the supply chain like ground handlers and DMCs having the technology.
“As long as you have a system that can properly load their rates and product then you can sell it. It’s about creating quotes and bookings quickly in one click. This is a space in the industry where travel companies can add real value by bringing in their own knowledge and expertise. We absolutely see what we have built having traction in that market.”
Keeley added: “If you can get the user experience right offering them their own tailor made itinerary builder you can further reduce your overheads. The challenge has always been what data do you have to be able to do that broad aspirational searching.
“It’s still all about whether you can get access to the product in advance to get that broad cache. It’s that deeper level of integration.”