Systems supplier FSS is close to rolling out the first leisure global distribution system to enable agents to call up and compare a range of package holidays on one screen and book them over the internet.
It will also allow operators to have their holidays displayed and bookable on the Internet in a travel portal, or 'shopping centre'. Chairman and managing director Ed Spiers said FSS got the idea last year to use its existing links to its tour operator clients' product to develop its own search and booking engine for package holidays.
However, the decision to go ahead with the launch hinged on the acquisition of rival Travellog Systems.
It bought Travellog, which offers the Res2000 booking system, at the end of last month for an undisclosed sum, bringing FSS an additional 65 tour and ferry operator clients on top of its existing portfolio of 81 clients. That was the critical mass needed.
Essentially, the GDS will be a shopping centre for travel products. If users know which resort and hotel they want to book they can input the details and each operator's available product and price will be shown on the screen side by side.
Clients looking for somewhere in Spain, for example, might start by asking for a choice of resorts or operators. They will then be able to move through the system to find hotels and package prices.
Spiers said the order in which operator product is shown can be changed to suit each agent.
For example, if Going Places bought the system it could show Airtours product first.
"Not every travel supplier will want to go onto the system because they will not want to be displayed alongside others, but I don't believe most can say no," said Spiers. "Distribution is key these days and this way they will get maximum distribution to independent agents, multiples and consumers using the Internet.
"For example, how is an operator like Sunvil going to make sure its products can be found among all the others on the Internet? By putting it into one central bookable box provided by us.
"Unlike viewdata, it won't cost operators anything and it will be quicker to make a booking."
Marketing director Ian Champness said the leisure GDS could be in operation by the end of the year, depending on how fast operators sign up and how quickly a buyer can be found.
FSS hopes to sell the search engine to Internet travel agencies such as Microsoft's Expedia and Sabre's Travelocity, which do not currently offer package holiday product, as well as multiples such as Going Places or Lunn Poly.
"I don't think other system suppliers are working on something like this because the mindset is still on showing one operator, as with viewdata, instead of seeing available product from different operators side by side," said Spiers.
As well as being able to book package holidays, FSS hopes to bring ferries - which are a specialist area for Travellog - leisure car rental, leisure hotels and travel insurance onto the system to provide a true one-stop shop.
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