Serko builds global online product with US player

The partnership will mean localised development in each region, says Serko

Local travel booking software developer Serko has formed a global sales and marketing alliance with US-based developer TRX.

Serko’s online booking tool Serko Online, and TRX’s RESX are both products for corporate travel management companies and their clients. RESX and Serko will work together to deliver new, locally focused technology simultaneously, says Darrin Grafton, Serko’s development manager

Serko will distribute online travel content to corporations across the Asia-Pacific region and RESX will cater for America and Europe. Around 70% of corporations in New Zealand use Serko online, he says.

The partnership will mean localised development in each region, in order to support tailoring and change requests quickly and cost effectively, with an agile approach, says Grafton. Support will also be offered locally, he says.

To Serko, the deal means the company is linking in to global accounts and it is also able to be part of a global tender process, says Grafton.

The online software provides real-time distribution of travel products via multiple channels that connect to Travel Management Companies (TMCs), such as American Express and Hogg Robinson Group, which are both Serko’s global partners.

Serko online connects to low-cost carriers, as well as hotels and rental cars. It allows the user to make a full online booking based on corporate policy, says Grafton. During the process the software also implements workflow processes and buying strategies, such as buying by best business practises, he says.

The software includes intelligent mapping of hotels, which shows the client’s location and walking distance to other locations. It also does comparisons of air prices and allows authorisers to see how much clients are losing on each booking, and to reject bookings if they wish, says Grafton.

Serko online has more smart features. For example, there is “follow-me itinerary” mobile phone functionality, which automatically changes bookings such as flights or taxis if the users sends an SMS with a change of plan to the server. The software also recognises if, for example, five people from the same group are leaving from the same hotel, and suggests a taxi-share to reduce costs.

The company has been working with TRX for about two years. There has been in shift in how big US players plan to take on the global market, Grafton says. Traditionally, they have tried to dominate the market but they have struggled to provide support and development to corporations quickly, he says.

Serko saw the chance to put forward the alliance idea to TRX, which would give the ability to create a global solution. Together, the integrated systems would be a dominant player, but one with regional development and support. This way, people in Asia, for example, will get support locally, and the development will be relevant to their market, says Grafton. The companies will also be able to more easily facilitate integration requirements into a variety of corporate systems.

Serko puts 70-80% of revenues back into research and development. A substantial grant from the government has also enabled the company to grow, he says. Of 40 staff, 18 are on the development team.

Serko, a Microsoft shop, is using all the latest Microsoft technologies, he says.

Serko was previously part of the Gullivers Pacific Group. Grafton, one of the original founders, and a group of investors purchased the company in May last year. This has allowed the company to grow faster, he says. “We are probably three times bigger now than we were when we were public,” he says.

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