Back at the helm of the company he started, chief executive Simon Powell reveals the company is poised to launch a raft of products. Lucy Huxley reports.

Four years ago, Simon Powell bought back the travel technology business he had previously built and sold.

In the period he did not own it, annual turnover dropped to £3.5 million.

This year, the business, now merged with others and known as Inspiretec, is forecasting annual turnover of £10 million.

“It’s been a real turnaround. In the last year, we’ve aggregated four businesses into one and we have expanded our client base,” he said.

“We are really proud to work with the clients we do. They have been a major part of our growth.”

Powell is poised to launch a number of products, but said this year had to be about focusing on integrating the business, and not just from a systems basis.

“We’ve moved to a one-team structure, which means the same team deals with the client all the way through the project, including after-care support too,” he said.

Last year, Powell built a business in Canada, which now has 15 staff operating out of Toronto.

The year also saw Inspiretec focusing on three Cs: the Caravan and Motorhome Club; the coach sector (through Shearings Holidays); and The Celtic Manor Resort, near Cardiff.

For the last of these, Inspiretec integrated several reservations systems into one and rebuilt the hotel’s website.

The work has given Powell a blueprint to expand into the hospitality sector for other resort hotels in the UK and overseas.

CRM growth

Powell said 2019 would see the company focus on a “one-view” CRM system, Holistic, adding that it had the potential to become a significant driver of revenue.

“Last year, it was 5% of revenue, but we see that growing to 25% over the next three years,” he said.

Powell believes there are very few good CRM systems tailored particularly for travel but said Holistic had been built with travel clients front of mind.

The system, which identifies customers from their first touch-point with a business, whether it be online, call centre or retail, and tracks them through the journey, means clients can offer a more personal service.

“Anyone in any channel can pick up the whole trail without having to ask the client to give their details over and over again,” said Powell.

Holistic, which is being used by suppliers and agents, is live in four of Travelopia’s brands, which are using it from a web-led management perspective.

Inspiretec is working with dnata’s B2B brands and Holistic is currently being piloted within Gold Medal. If successful, it will be extended to Travel 2. “And we are in the process of putting it into eight more clients,” he said.

Cruise business

Another key focus is cruise. Powell said: “We acquired a cruise aggregation business called Cruiseopia. This aggregates 27 cruise lines. It has deck plans, rich content, pricing and availability, but not bookability. We are in the process of putting the engine in, and adding the bookability.”

Powell said he was starting with MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Cunard and Royal Caribbean’s four brands.

“This new tech will go into tour operators via Travelink and we are going to put it into our Harmony retail product as well,” he said.

“Ours is going to be a new tech platform for people selling cruise. It will make available the APIs, and if people want to integrate it into their own platform, they can.”

The final focus for this year is Sequence, the website and app‑design business that Inspiretec bought two years ago. Powell said: “Sequence has been the jewel in our crown. We have won some great clients in the last 18 months.”