Technology provider Multicom is to start trials of a new booking gateway for agents in the Advantage independent consortium ahead of a full launch in August.
Broads Travel and Holiday Travel will test beta versions of the site from June before a full role out of the gateway that will be offered free to consortium members.
Initially it will offer accommodation and flights and the ability to dynamically package with around 40 low cost carriers in the system and 38 bed banks.
Advantage, which claims to have 700 independent travel agent locations in its membership, has commercial deals with most of the airlines, but where it does not agents will be charged a fee to make a booking.
The system allows agents to set their own mark up and some flexibility in tailoring which suppliers are given priority depending on individual commercial relationship they may have or regional offers from local departure points.
Advantage, which showcased the new technology at its annual conference in Lucerne at the weekend, said the main benefit for it was to bring all suppliers into one interface.
The system will help Advantage drive increased sales to preferred suppliers and, if members are making large numbers of bookings to non-preferred suppliers, it will approach them about being added to the gateway.
Further developments will see packages, holiday extras like transfers, cruise and airline ancillaries added creating a “one-stop shop” for Advantage agents.
Advantage chief executive John McEwan described the new gateway as being like a Travelsupermarket for members with bookability built in.
“At the moment if you want to book a bed bank in order to assess the best possible deal, you have to visit the bed banks individually and you could have as many as half a dozen browsers open at any one time,” he said.
“This is an aggregation system that brings together everything in one place. It gives members a one stop shop.
“The real benefit for us is to aggregate the content to make it as easy as possible for our members. It’s a very simple booking process and it enables us to bring in existing relationships but also new ones.
“There are a lot of selling systems out there provided by consortia and other players where you can get access to content but are taken off to a suppliers’ site.”
Agents will access the gateway through a web browser log-in and it will be compatible with existing selling platforms members use. Although initially designed for business to business it will also offer the ability to be plugged into members’ consumer sites.
Multicom, which also powers Thomas Cook’s Flexibletrips, reported strong growth last year with 3.3 million passengers booked through its Findandbook system, ahead of forecast of 25 million. This year the Bristol-based developer expects to hit 4.5 million to 5 million.