TTE 2013: Vayant seeks travel start-ups for the appliance of science

Using the latest technology to pioneer services which consumers want but which no one else is proving will be the focus for air fare search specialist Vayant Travel Technologies.

Speaking to Travolution at Travel Technology Europe where Vayant unveiled new Fare Alert product, Brannon Winn, chief commercial officer, said it was now time travel firms applied the technology in the marketplace.

Fare Alert was designed to take the hassle out of shopping online by allowing customers to set the parameters of their search, like price and destination, and then leave the system to alert them when something appropriate is available.

“These are the sort of cool things we are coming up with – 2013 is all about finding these niche-type offerings that are impossible in traditional models because the technology does not allow it but we know customers are looking for,” said Winn.

Vayant is a Europe-based business-to-business only player in the air fare shopping sector, an equivalent to ITA Software which Google bought for $700 million and which it now powering its Flight Search service in the US.

Winn said, having spent the last five years building its technology, Vayant was now very much on the customer acquisition trail this year.

“We are looking to get the traction on the consumer side of the product so the focus is maybe not necessarily on building new product but I think it’s about bringing forward to the market business uses of our product.

“How does one translate this technology into something that our customers can use in their businesses every day? Sometimes people need to be inspired in how they can use it so we give them a real live example [like Fare Alert].

“The whole start-up community is probably one of the best sources of that for us because they are searching for the cool new thing that’s going to drive traffic to their site. They are not weighed down with a traditional thought mentality which says ‘we have to do it this way because this is the way it’s always been done’.

“That’s the other thing about 2013 – it’s about challenging the status quo, thinking outside the box.”

One example of how Vayant’s approach is helping tour operators with their business is how they are helping them tackle BA’s decision to stop issuing hard copy paper fares at the end of March.

Some firms still take these to load the data into their systems by hand, but Vayant has come up with a solution to mechanise this process and save on the cost of having to query a GDS to access the data.

Vayant’s core product has been designed to reduce the costs of accessing and downloading live data from the GDSs and it is working with Peakwork in Germany, the firm set up by former Traveltainment founder Ralph Usbeck, which is fast establishing itself in the growing dynamic packaging sector in the region.

Winn said this tie-up is being used by OTA Hotelplan in Switzerland and Austria to put together millions of holiday combinations, with updates 12 times a day that would otherwise be economically unfeasible using the traditional GDS system.

Vayant is poised to go live with a top five global OTA with its Live Fare email technology, first unveiled to coincide with World Travel Market last November, which allows travel firms to send emails to its database which include fares that are accurate as and when the email is opened and are constantly updated.

Winn said live air fare shopping in emails to this client’s database would require 48 million ‘transactions’, or queries, on the GDS a month, something that would not be viable. However, Vayant can provide this without having to go via a GDS and says, at the same time, this will help the client improve its conversion rate because fares are accurate.

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