The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has linked arms with travel technology provider, TPConnects, to launch a new initiative to digitally empower its membership base of about 2,500 across the country.
Launched on the sidelines of the last week’s TAAI Convention in Srinagar, TAAI Connect allows travel agents to have their own website, booking engine, mobile application, corporate booking tool and decide their commission directly with 39 suppliers integrated into their platform.
TAAI Connect will also allow agents to book directly with airlines using IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), in addition to integrating content from GDSs as well as hotel suppliers, consolidators, car rentals and cruises, according to TAAI’s vice president Sanjay Narula.
“TAAI Connect will allow our member travel agencies to be able to research and compare on one particular platform, rather than multiple platforms which is happening currently,” he added.
Rajendran Vellapalath, CEO, TPConnects, declared: “Unfortunately at this stage all the GDS companies in the industry have a technology that is old. As we are using the latest technology, airlines will be able to push any particular offer to the customer through a travel agent using our channel.
He elaborated: “As a travel agent I don’t need to worry about what is going to happen in technological advancement in terms of maintenance, development or upgrade. These aspects will be taken care by TPConnects as a technological provider.”
The technology is offered free of charge to TAAI members but TPConnects will charge agents a fixed nominal amount per transaction.
Some 120 travel consultants have already signed up for TAAI Connect, with the technological solution finding favour especially among the SME agencies.
Neeraj Malhotra, CEO, Ganpati Travels, said: “TAAI Connect offers an opportunity to small travel agencies that can’t own an online internet booking engine to own one. Moreover, the platform offers more suppliers than any GDS companies. We expect to grow our business through TAAI Connect.”
Gurmeet Singh Vij, proprietor of Nagpur-based Nova Tours & Travels, added: “I operate from a tier-II city which means that we have to generally depend on our counterparts in metro cities for booking travel-related services and pay a mark up fees to them. With TAAI Connect we will be directly dealing with suppliers, thus it will result in cost benefit to us.”