Gullivers' Travel Software Takes Off

AUCKLAND (02/18/2000) - Travel company Gullivers Pacific has established a separate software division to cope with international interest in its Serko travel booking software.

The software was originally written for use within Auckland-based Gullivers Pacific's own travel agencies, Budget Travel, Signature Travel and Holiday Shoppe, says general manager of business development Kathy O'Connor. However, she says, "we realized that the more people we get using it, the more money there will be to develop it further".

In a deal worth over NZ$1 million (US$494,000), the United Travel Agents Group (UTAG) in Australia has now chosen the system for its 400 agents, and it has also attracted interest from the U.S., U.K. and within New Zealand. "We're working with partners overseas to offer it as a thin-client solution," says O'Connor.

An Australian telco, yet to be named, will operate as an application service provider (ASP) and host the software for UTAG. A "mini" or "leisure" (as opposed to business) version is also available with fewer reporting capabilities but O'Connor says this will only suit the smallest travel agents.

"Most people are seeing this as a way to boost productivity and they want the state-of-the-art technology," she says.

Serko allows business travel clients to book their own travel online and keep track of travel expenses: who has gone where and when, and how much they've spent.

The product was developed in Visual Basic and Microsoft C by Access Interactive, a joint company between Gullivers Pacific and Auckland-based development house Interactive Technologies.

Interactive Technologies managing director Darrin Grafton says the product can work with any airline reservation system. Most travel agents only work with one "global distribution system", he says, and changing involves intensive retraining for staff.

"Serko's language translator means they are independent and can work with any of the systems, increasing their speed and efficiency by about 30 percent to 40 percent."

The airlines were helpful in the development process, he says.

The new Gullivers Pacific division, Access 2000, will be run by general manager Chad Howard. It will offer business analysis of travel agents' IT needs, conversion of existing data, installation and training in using the new system.

Prices haven't been fully finalised yet but a full version is likely to cost NZ$2000 to NZ$3000 per workstation, per annum, and a mini version from NZ$1500 to NZ$2000.

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