Fast-growing German leisure travel search technology specialist Peakwork is poised to make inroads into the UK market having struck deals with the big two Tui Travel and Thomas Cook.
The firm’s chief executive, Ralf Usbeck, previously founded Amadeus-owned Traveltainment whose stronghold is in Germany where Peakwork has been growing strongly to 90 staff from just two in 2009.
Usbeck sold Traveltainment to Amadeus in 2006 and recently returned to the industry joining Peakwork, which was set up by former employees of Traveltainment.
In the UK Colin McKee, a former Traveltainment sales director and shareholder, has been appointed managing director and is now recruiting staff to work at its base in Peterborough.
McKee originally came into the Traveltainment business when his travel content company Access eMedia was bought in 2005.
Speaking to Travolution at last week’s ITT conference in Abu Dhabi, McKee said: “The business is growing rapidly.
“We are making huge inroads in Germany where we have most of the main tour operators, airlines, and hotel bed banks already set up and using our technology platform.
“We are now open in the UK. We now have the commitment from Tui and Thomas Cook [in the UK] and what’s really relevant from their perspective, what they are concerned about, is the exponential rise of mobile.
“This generates more searches on their systems and there is real concern around traditional reservations systems creaking at the seams and being unable to cope with the growth.
“What we do is provide the platform. They integrate internally within their own environment and our technology mirrors the inventory which they hold in their own reservation system.
“All searches take place on our platform. It allows their reservations systems to just do reservations. In conjunction we provide a distribution hub so they can distribute B-B and B-C and provide sub-second response.”
What Peakwork believes is its main advantage over third party caching systems is that clients can continue to host their own data.
It was this potential loss of control of data that is understood to have stifled Traveltainment’s growth outside of Germany into markets like the UK.
Last year Amadeus closed down Traveltainment in the UK although it continues to offer a version of its Extreme Search as part of the Amadeus offering.
“What tour operators per se have an issue with is other people outside of their environment hosting their data because they have no control over it.
“With our technology the tour operator licences our software and they host it within their own environment, therefore they have control with regards to updating, revenue management, distribution etc.
“Plus our technology provides added value by improving the overall customer experience, with important features including faster responses, faceted search options and market tailored front end design capabilities.
“Being in control, that’s the key issue. They [operators] need to have as much control over their own product as possible. Sharing it with a third party cache means they have not got that direct control.”
McKee said because Peakwork, which describes its technological approach as ‘player-hub’, creates one single EDF format for all content it is effectively creating a new xml data standard for the leisure industry.
“The benefit is it can be shared across platforms. Tour operators can exchange their product within EDF and that gives them greater capability for distribution and control of that distribution.
“Today reservations systems all do the same thing, but they speak different languages. EDF speaks Esperanto.”
McKee said once operatives in clients’ firms are taught to speak the language they are able to make updates themselves within their own systems.
“We talk about it in terms of you are the musician, we give you the instrument and teach you to play, the more you practice, the better you get,” he said.