The chairman of car hire aggregator CarTrawler and Audley Travel has warned that much of the UK travel industry is still lagging behind other sectors on technology development and implementation.
Responding to a question at Travolution’s sister title’s first Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in London, Richard Prosser said: “Travel technology is about five out of 10 in terms of evolution. If you look at other sectors, the travel industry has caught up slightly but it still has a long way to go.”
He added: “The customer demands the technology, so if a travel company doesn’t provide it then the customer will find another way to get what they need.”
A former Tui Travel chief, Prosser was appointed chairman of Audley Travel after private equity backer Equistone Partners Europe, formerly Barclays Private Equity, took a stake in the tailor-made specialist.
Prosser said, although Audley was not a technology-driven business, its ambitions for expansion, including overseas, would be heavily influenced by its technology.
Iain Andrew, senior vice president of Travel Republic owner Dnata Travel, a part of the Emirates Group, rated the sector’s evolution of technology at three out of 10, and yet it’s importance was eight out of 10.
He said the online travel agent’s technology had been a significant factor in the acquisition of Travel Republic in December this year but he admitted its true value had become apparent after the deal as Travel Republic was integrated into the Dnata portfolio.
“It was very important in the decision, but it isn’t just about the technology itself, it’s about how they use the technology and how they flex to use it,” he said.
“Arguably, more so than the technology, this is what has impressed us most since the deal.”