TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

A Global Travel Agency Discovers a Side Hustle Selling Its Own Technology

ATPI | July 06, 2021

A Global Travel Agency Discovers a Side Hustle Selling Its Own Technology
When faced with a crisis, the travel industry reacts in a variety of ways. ATPI’s solution to the pandemic is to join the other mega-agencies that offer technology to other travel agencies. What ATPI may discover: licensing may be a complicated process.

ATPI’s track record with technology companies works to its advantage. For example, it recently invested $1.4 million in TapTrip and almost $350,000 in Singapore’s Greywing platform. According to its CEO, it now wants to “liberate” its platform and generate money by licensing it to other companies that may not have the means to create their own.

“The technology stacks that we’ve developed, we’re going to move into a different division so that, in addition to a travel management business arm, we’ll have our technology arm,” Ian Sinderson said.

ATPI has fared quite well in comparison to many of its rivals due to rising ties with the robust marine and cargo transport industries. It had a profit of $15 million last year, although that number was 50% lower than in 2019. Selling software could compensate for income lost.

When it formally launches in the coming months, its new technology arm, TripStax, will be a semi-autonomous company. TripStax was founded in August of last year, although ATPI experimented with various names, registering Travelstax and Lemonstack with the UK’s Companies House along the way.

TripStax will provide a full suite of platforms, including a booking tool, profile manager, analytics, duty of care, and traveler tracking platforms – key elements of technology that the agency has spent significant time developing internally, according to Sinderson.

GETTING THE BEST DEAL

ATPI is not the only agency to license a software-as-a-service travel platform to third parties; several of the industry’s larger players do as well. With their vast resources, they have greater opportunities to develop, or even buy, specialized platforms.

For example, American Express Global Business Travel has over 200 agencies signed up for its GBT Partnership Solutions section. They may, for example, utilize its booking tool, Neo, which assists the agency in filling gaps in its footprint. In addition, this premise collaborates with companies such as Kanoo in the Middle East and Tourvest in South Africa.

But what does it think of ATPI’s venture into software licensing?

If Amex GBT’s acquisition of Egencia goes through, it may be able to expand this segment of its company. “Teaming Egencia with GBT’s Supply MarketPlace, one of the most extensive sources for information and experiences for business travelers,” it said in a statement. It is now seeking a vice president for its GBT Partnership Solutions business.

However, one expert has warned that any agency selling its technology must guarantee that it is mature and flexible. “There is always a gap between utilizing a system inside one business and then providing it to a wider audience,” said Guy Sneglar, senior vice president, global travel technology integration, Partnership Travel Consulting.

Amex GBT’s Ahluwalia noted many legal, compliance, data privacy, and regulatory concerns to address before in-house solutions could compete with a third party. Then there are concerns about the content that comes with the technological product and other business structures.

Branching out has proven beneficial over the years, with some spin-offs taking on a life of their own. For example, Atriis, a managed travel technology platform, was founded in 2013 as a joint venture between Amsalem Travel in Israel and Portman Travel (acquired by Clarity Travel) in the United Kingdom.

HRG also found success with developing its expense tool Fraedom, while the UK corporate train booking site Evolvi was initially developed by Harry Weeks Travel, a 1954 agency.

Spotlight

Tourism in the Western Cape and its related components and activities have not been managed and developed in accordance with a clear, collective policy and strategy. As a result, the various components of the industry are largely uncoordinated and inwardly focused. This has resulted in ad hoc and fragmented strategies which failed to capitalise on our diverse tourism resources, thereby limiting the ability of the tourism sector to effectively provide much-needed entrepreneurship, employment and skills development opportunities.

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Spotlight

Tourism in the Western Cape and its related components and activities have not been managed and developed in accordance with a clear, collective policy and strategy. As a result, the various components of the industry are largely uncoordinated and inwardly focused. This has resulted in ad hoc and fragmented strategies which failed to capitalise on our diverse tourism resources, thereby limiting the ability of the tourism sector to effectively provide much-needed entrepreneurship, employment and skills development opportunities.