Ultimedia sets out to level playing field online for small agents

Ultimedia sets out to level playing field online for small agents

Travel technology firm Ultimedia has vowed to ‘level the playing field’ for traditional travel agents who are battling online rivals.

The Manchester-based firm, which made its name working with the likes of The Co-operative Travel, Thomas Cook and Midcounties Co-op, has developed Ultimedia Travel, a website solution which comes in a non-bookable or bookable version and has been designed and priced to suit independent agents’ often restricted budgets.

Ultimedia Travel has been developed with established travel platform Multicom integrated in the backend and includes secure online payments. A first client is due to go live early next month.

Garry Diver, chief executive of Ultimedia, estimated there are around 5,000 agents in its target market, 70% of which currently have some form of web presence but a third of which have a non-viable site.

He said many will not have bookability on their websites, despite investing a lot of time and cash, or will not have been able to afford to buy a viable site.

“We saw that there was a market for independent travel agents, but there was really no where for them to go,” said Diver.

“We did some research and came to the conclusion we need to provide something sufficiently generic so that different agents could use it, but was customisable and could provide things they typically do not have.

“If we can level the playing field for small independent agents we think we will have delivered value.”

Diver said feedback from discussion with travel agents was that budgets were a critical factor so it had to ensure the product was “modestly priced”.

On top of that Ultimedia is offering its customers, as part of the monthly fee, regular updates and new features.

It says it will add two to three updates every quarter and will work closely with its clients, surveying them once a quarter to find out what features they would like.

Ultimedia is also conscious that agents often require help operating their websites and so will offer a consultancy service and can generate unique content for them.

Jonathan Collins, senior account manager at Ultimedia, said the firm was conscious that small agents needed to have a support system in place.

“A lot of people have been stung in the past. They’ve been sold something which has taken five months longer than they thought to be delivered and they have to pay extra for enhancements.”

Ultimedia is promising a 30-day turnaround and initially is targeting travel agents with turnover between £1 million and £3 million.

The initial set-up cost for a bookable website is £1,795 and the monthly cost is £499 thereafter. For a non-bookable site those charges are £995 and £199 respectively. A unique content creation service is on offered for £18 a page or £200 for 20 pages.

The firm expects some clients to start with a non-bookable site and then to trade up to a bookable site once they feel they are ready.

The website will be mobile responsive, Ultimedia saying it is taking a mobile-first approach to development.

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