The online travel market is growing fast. According to Forrester Research, “Boomers and Gen X make the largest proportion of travelers — 72 percent and 71 percent, respectively. About 121.8 million U.S. leisure travelers are online, with Boomers making up 48.3 million of them. Among U.S. business travelers, 45 million are online with 40 percent from Boomers generation. Air travel retains its lead as the top travel product booked online, with nearly one in four seniors buying an airline ticket online in the past three months.”
The online travel industry has an ecosystem of its own formed by industries like hospitality, transportation, insurance, distribution, conventions, tourism, airlines, car rental companies, railroad operators, cruise lines, GDS, tour operators, travel technology companies, travel agencies and online booking sites.
“If you look at tour operators, especially the ones based in Europe, have a very structured way of keeping the inventory and selling it; the operators have never really thought of going online. So if they want to bring their huge inventories to the online travel space, they have the issue that they need to maintain the relationships with travel agents while at the same time there is an parallel need to bring everything online. So the requirement for them is data migration and data consistency” said a spokesperson (reluctant to reveal the identity) from a major European travel technology company.
“Consumers would need whatever you are selling today into their mobile application. This calls for a total understanding on the vendor’s part about how emerging mobile technologies can be integrated. Getting such application-level skills on emerging technologies is a challenge,” continued the spokesperson, an expert in online travel, dynamic packaging, and destination marketing, having worked for two major European companies developing Internet Booking Engines (IBEs) for the travel industry.
This company is one of the major customers of DataArt, a software solutions company.
Providing technology and development services to an industry like online travel is very different from serving other verticals like banking, financial services, or manufacturing. The online travel industry is very dynamic in its demand cycles, the technology platform is the core backbone of the business, and the pace at which new and emerging technologies are assimilated is high. In short, this is an industry where the development cycles have to keep pace with demand and technology lifecycles. Similarly, the domain knowledge that characterizes success in such verticals is much more evolutionary in nature. Therefore, technology components that embody business knowledge such as booking engines, inventory management, dynamic packaging are still evolving and far from standardization. Similar is the case with technologies like social networking, integration of various mobile platforms like Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone and Google’s Android, and integration of various payment systems.