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The Young Ones

November 20, 2011

(Published in TTG 20.10.2011)

Matthew Parsons talks to Stephen Young, Travel Indigo’s director, about the launch of its suite of booking engines

At just 25, Stephen Young is already a WTM veteran, with this year marking his ninth visit.

However, 2011 is set to be the most important yet as it marks the official launch of his company’s Nemesis suite of booking engines.

Designed with agents in mind, Young, financial director at Travel Indigo, says the idea came about following troubles with its own technology provider in September 2010.

“We sell a lot of educational tours, and there was a lack of available routes, airlines and available destinations. We undertook court cases in February, April and June 2011 and were successful on all three occasions,” he says. The company recruited three developers, who are based in Manchester, to design a new booking engine to suit its own needs. It proved so successful that the agency decided to roll it out to other small agencies and operators, via a new division called Indigo Travel Tech.

“It’s a good platform for independent agents to grow their sales,” Young says. The system is based on GDS feeds, as opposed to XML, and has access to 387 airlines and 150,000 hotels. “GDS is an older technology, but it is more stable, and cheaper, than XML. They are good quality feeds.

“When we sell the platform, there’s a lot of tailoring and customising at the front end, so the customer can choose the look they want. We offer daily updates up to when the system is ready for testing and handover.”

Turnaround times are quick, at seven days for its entry-level “Apollo” platform, which offers flights only. This option costs £3,995, while extra modules such as airport parking or XML feeds, start at £120.WTM will see the official launch of Middle East Journeys as the first client for its technology arm, but other customers include Hurlingham Travel, Byrite Flights, and Executive Travel & Tourism, in Jordan.

Security and innovation
Other clients include security companies, for which Indigo Travel Tech creates bespoke platforms, with extra levels of security. These clients send staff to areas such as Afghanistan and Africa, and for privacy reasons choose not to disclose destinations with third-party travel bookers.

Yet through these platforms, Young says Indigo Travel Tech is able to innovate its product. “One of these companies needed its staff in Africa to be able to book flights from their smartphone, and sometimes from the nearest airport. As a result, we’re adding GPS integration. It gives them that extra bit of information.”

The company is also targeting the tablet market. Young believes the desktop, or online, market is now mature, so is aiming to capture the younger market, via new agents or operators that are planning to sell holidays via tablets.

“We already have one client who’s signing up for our Nemesis platform for the iPad,” he says.

Going global
Going up against the likes of Multicom, Young remains undaunted: “It’s a brave move, to showcase it at WTM, but there’s no better way to promote it worldwide.”

There will be eight Travel Indigo staff manning the stand (TT201), and Young is happy to provide demos for interested visitors. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Middle East Journeys, will also be there. Travel Indigo will also be attending the TTG Tweetup with DoubleTree by Hilton on November 7 to talk more about its new platforms.

Entrepreneur in the making
Young has been in travel since he was 16, studying an AVCE in Travel & Tourism at New College in Swindon, and set up Travel Indigo before he had finished his final exams at Loughborough University, where he was studying Air transport management, in 2010. The other three founders also graduated in the same year. “During the recession in 2008, many airlines were shedding management roles to cut costs,” Young says. “So we thought let’s just start up our own company.” “We knew the airlines well, and could get good rates. Most of our product is flight-only, as ground activities tend to already be sorted by the schools, such as charity projects.” Prior to his degree, Young had worked for Tui and Thomas Cook, and in Luxembourg, Italy, France and Africa.

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