TOURISMlink Consortium Members to Discuss Progress of the Project

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TOURISMlink, the first pan-European platform to link supply and demand travel businesses, has reached an important milestone. At a meeting in Brussels, project members will discuss the next steps as the pilot study moves from Spain to Croatia.

Over the next year, it’s important we succeed in rolling out the platform in many countries and get as much feedback as possible.

The TOURISMlink platform will be demonstrated to consortium members during a meeting in Brussels on July 23, 2013, signaling a milestone in the ambitious project. Members will also discuss both the functionality and business strategy of TOURISMlink. Representatives from ECTAA (European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Association), HOTREC (the umbrella association of hotels, restaurants and cafés in Europe), ITH (Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero), ZN and Bocconi University, will be in attendance.

Backed by the European Commission, TOURISMlink is working to create a Europe-wide platform on which small travel businesses and travel agents or tour operators can connect and share information. The final aim is increasing their competitiveness in the European travel industry by fully taking advantage of the digital market.

Until now, not all members of the consortium have seen the online platform in action, so the meeting in Brussels will be a chance for a demonstration and discussion of its functionality and implementation. At present, the platform is up and running in Valencia, Spain, where the first pilot study is being carried out. Adaptation for Croatia, the second pilot study, is underway.

Over the coming months, TOURISMlink will face substantial challenges as it rolls out the platform across destinations (Valencia, Rimini and Croatia) and source countries (including Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany). This will be the first pan-Europe platform to connect supply and demand for both incoming and outgoing tourism.

The consortium is aware of the hurdles in implementing such a far-reaching platform.

“The challenge now is to find the right local businesses to work with (tourism suppliers, travel agents and tour operators), integrate the ICT systems these businesses are currently using and create a community of users,” said Luc Chomé, TOURISMlink Senior Account Manager from ZN.

At the upcoming meeting, representatives from partner organistations ECTAA and HOTREC will be present to provide ITH with feedback from the travel businesses they have been approaching to take part in the project. How the second pilot – in Croatia – is carried out will depend on the findings revealed from travel businesses in Valencia.

There are substantial benefits for companies that decide to take part in the trial. As well as opening up new markets and having a positive impact on profits, integrating with TOURISMlink will potentially save businesses thousands of Euros.

The TOURISMlink platform will offer three main elements: a central reservation system (CRS) that centralises all products and destinations into one database; a property management system (PMS); and channel management, allowing immediate and automatic integration and adaptation of all data.

At present, the cost of such technology is a deterrent for many travel businesses wishing to tap into the digital market. TOURISMlink will be offering the same service at a significantly lower cost.

The European Commission has backed the project on the understanding that TOURISMlink will enhance the competitiveness of small travel businesses. An important element of the meeting in Brussels will be to ensure the financial benefits of joining the project are being successfully communicated.

“This meeting will be a good milestone to look at what’s been achieved and what’s ahead of us,” Chomé said.

“With such ambitious goals, the challenges we’re facing now are enormous: identifying companies to participate, integrating many different ICT systems, identifying the proper business models and finding potential partners for the future. The project has another 12 months to go so we’re mid-way (the final conference will be in June 2014). Over the next year, it’s important we succeed in rolling out the platform in many countries and get as much feedback as possible.”

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Luc Chomé
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