My loyal blog readers will recall my frequent posts over the last few years regarding an independent travel agent point of sale (POS) application. An interesting discovery that has been a result of product analysis I am doing for a large Middle Eastern TMC is the fact there is clear trend with many European and Middle Eastern 3rd party software providers to combine various elements of the agent’s workflow processes in a multi-facet platform that includes a booking engine, a Web based agent POS, a customer profile database (often referred to as a CRM system), a workflow engine, a mid office and accounting system. I believe that a reason this integrated platform is emerging outside the US has to do the with need for international agents to deal with more complexity at the point of sale and the requirement to generate an invoice from a mid-office accounting program due to the large number of accounts still on credit. The fact that so many travel agencies in different parts of the world still offer credit to corporate accounts and in some cases leisure clients is not a surprise to anyone who understands the global travel market. What is surprising is how 3rd party providers such as Dolphin Dynamics, Tech Tuners and ProCon Solutions have embraced a more holistic approach to the agency needs by providing a solution that supports both corporate and leisure sales.
In his article for PhoCusWright entitled Travel Agency Technology, my colleague Bob Offutt described this platform as the agency of the future:
Now let’s compare this with a diagram from a presentation yesterday from TECH TUNERS a Dubai based 3rd party developer and distributor of Sabre’s TRAMS accounting system:
In fact my my diagram from the 2003 PhoCusWright / Travel Tech Consulting report on Dynamic Packaging also describes a similar architecture.
The interesting aspect of this platform evolution is where it is happening and why. In the US the GDS still dominate the agent POS with the exception of mega-TMC initiatives or 3rd party products such as G2 Switchworks POS (now owned by Travelport). There is a clear distinction between corporate POS (e.g. TRX’s Agent Desktop) and leisure POS (e.g traveltek’s iSell – Travel Booking Engine) Outside the US due to a need to integrate multiple sources, currencies and accounts on credit, traditional back office functions have shifted to the mid-office. The issues associated with this complex booking process exists for both the corporate and leisure agency. Of course the leisure agency also needs the ability to store net rates a solution that is also offered by many of these non-US third pa
Clearly there is a global trend to provide a more function rich point of sale application for the travel agent. Is there an opportunity to bring this solution to the second and third tier TMCs and leisure agents in the US?
Recent research by my colleague Douglas Quimby of PhoCusWright highlighted the dominance of the GDS platform in the US in his study the “Travel Agency Distribution Landscape“ PhoCusWright tracked agency usage of alternative POS technology.
This slide shows that with the exception of the very large TMCs the majority of agencies in the US still use native GDS as their POS.
Clearly an opportunity exists to capitalize on the growing need for a multi-source and integrated application that combines multiple agent processes in a Web based solution.