Open Destinations prepares to crank up the volume as it turns fifteen

Open Destinations prepares to crank up the volume as it turns fifteen

Travel technology specialist Open Destinations marks its 15th anniversary this year and says it wants to come out of the shadows as a key supplier of systems and services to the trade.

Last month the firm, which is based in London and Goa, India, unveiled a new corporate identity marking the culmination of a period of significant growth.

Open Destinations says it has been growing by at least 30% each year for the past five years, with last year’s growth hitting 34% and turnover £7.5 million.

Chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan, admitted the firm was still somewhat under the radar compared to better known rivals like Comtec and Codegen.

But having grown to over 400 staff at its London HQ and India development centre and expanded its project and business analysis teams, it is poised to make more noise.

O’Sullivan said Open Destinations’ diverse and multinational client base means its technology has developed to provide a much broader range of technological solutions.

“Over 50% of our business comes from overseas, plus we have some international customers. It’s fun to work with those kinds of companies.

“We’ve now got quite a wide spread of different customers in different markets and there are a lot of different personalities and implementation and development situations.

“With the size we are now it has made what we offer a much richer system.”

One example is working with a leading tour operator customer in Turkey to come up with a completely new payments system for buying flights due to visa rules in the country.

It has also created systems to retail air tickets through cash payments at kiosks in South Africa and has a number of escorted tours clients seeking pre and post-tour flexibility.

Customer Topdeck Travel, which runs budget 18-35 coach tours in Europe, uses Open Destinations to create a complex matrix of itineraries to offer flexible start and finish points.

O’Sullivan said most clients have API XML integration needs – Open Destinations went live with its first business-to-business XML integration in 2002.

“Nowadays it’s all about vertical integration, integrating more channel managers and extranet integration with third parties.

“Today we handle 20 million requests a day by XML servicing between 3,000 and 5,000 bookings a day.

“The big change has been the role of channel managers. Everyone wants to get that best available rate.”

At the recent Travel Technology Europe trade show in London, Open Destinations unveiled the latest version of its supplier extranet.

“Our technology helps [operators] divert their staffing resources towards what really matters – growing their business.”

Other improvements to Open Destinations’ core Travel Studio B-B and B-C platform has sought to improve real-time access to pricing, allocations, special offers and hotel content.

Interface updates have also improved transparency of customer booking financial information for tour operator and hoteliers.

Recently added third party suppliers include JacTravel, HBSI, Bonotel, Expedia, Avis and Amadeus.

Philip Napleton, senior vice president of products and professional services, said: “We spend a lot of time recruiting people who have worked in the industry – people who have worked with other companies, worked with competitors, in order to have a team that understands travel and can make things happen.

“We focus on deliverables rather than get distracted, which can really kill a project.

“For us it’s making sure our project team aligns with our customer to build those relationships at each stage of the project.

“We can give lead times in weeks to months and we can do it cost effectively.”

One area Open Destinations hopes to grow due to the close partnership it engenders between its clients and its staff, whether in London or Goa, is business process outsourcing.

The firm has a division of 130 people in Goa who upload and manage content such as hotel contracts and special offers on behalf of clients.

Napleton said operators wanting to compete with airlines and hotels and dynamic packaging rivals need to make inventory management as efficient as possible.

“Everyone is talking about cost, but there is a reticence about giving business-critical operations to people you do not trust,” said Napleton.

Now in its 15th year Open Destinations plans to celebrate its successes and look forward to future growth with events including a customer conference in London and charity fundraisers in Goa.

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