UK travel agency consortium TTA Worldchoice has introduced new retail booking technology it claims will help its 800 members increase their margins and access to product.
The consortium recruited specialist programmers to create web-based system Honeycomb, which is compatible with all browsers and requires no software downloads.
Ten agents are currently piloting the system in the cruise sector, having secured a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line and Monarch Airlines. A further ten are piloting it for flights.
The system gives agents access to net rates from cruise lines to they can package up themselves, or choose to sell the line’s own packages if the margins are better.
TTA Worldchoice said Honeycomb is effectively a GDS for the cruise industry, with all the major lines providing content through data feeds.
But unlike a GDS, the system is free to use for both agent and operator. Access to product is a live issue in the industry, with leading cruise operator Carnival UK questioning its future distribution through Amadeus Cruise.
Ultimately TTA Worldchoice sees Honeycomb as central to enabling agents to maximise their revenues by creating packages with ancillaries and supporting key suppliers.
Currently 84% of the product TTA agents sell is dynamically packaged while 80% of Worldchoice business is traditional packages.
Honeycomb also allows agents to access the consortium’s customer financial protection products, including a new gold-plated Atol that offers complete protection.
Simon Hargreaves, managing director of The Travel Network Group, the new parent name for TTA Worldchoice said offering members bespoke technology was vital.
“The thing we have a nightmare with is getting our own technology right. We knew the market was rapidly evolving and we wanted to have it in-house.
“It’s been difficult. The number of times we thought ‘why are we doing this to ourselves’ but it’s become so important to our commercial strategy it’s important to hang in there.”