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Aussie firm harnesses robotics to save agents money

March 10, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

The global travel and tourism industry, worth over USD 7 trillion, is one of the world’s most complex – so any way of simplifying and automating the processes involved can deliver huge dividends to travel companies.

One man dedicated to automating time-consuming manual travel processes is Kurt Knackstedt, chief executive of Troovo. Troovo is an Aussie start-up, now well established, designed to virtualise and eliminate manual intervention within transaction-based industries.

Troovo, Knackstedt says, believes that nobody ever goes into the travel industry to do data processing. The travel industry is powered by people, and Troovo feels that technology should serve people, not the other way around.

Founded about two years ago, Troovo has plans to expand to the US and UK later this year, but at present it’s focussed on Australia and New Zealand.

Kurt Knackstedt

“There’s ample opportunity here in this region because the travel industry has been highly dependent on mid-office systems for a number of years – systems which do a lot of the post-reservations processing for travel agents, whether that’s generating itineraries and invoicing or making payments, or providing additional data that they collect,” Knackstedt says.

He continues: “Manual data entry is the predominant form of business for many travel agencies and Troovo’s goal is to eliminate as much of that as possible through robotic process automation. The software we developed – built by and for travel agents originally – is designed to take the grunt-work out of processing and leave agents time to do what they do best, which is to offer service and support and advice to travellers.”

On average, only 10% of offline transactions are automated in the travel industry. With Troovo, 85% of offline booking are automated. Knackstedt says the Troovo engine can dramatically and permanently reduce the cost of itinerary and transaction processing, delivering large savings for TMCs. It means people spend less time on data processing and more time working with customers.

“Our first customer was a large, primarily corporate-focussed travel agency out of Melbourne called Voyager Travel,” Knackstedt says.

“In the first two years after they deployed the software, they actually reduced their operational costs by 50% in first year of operation. It was a combination of expanded volume without hiring more people – a natural attrition of staff with people either leaving the business or retiring and not having to be replaced – as well as a team of finance people who were able to redeploy their time because they weren’t doing financial manual entry.”

Troovo also recently signed and went live with HRG Australia, part of the global HRG Corporation.

The benefits of Troovo are particularly apparent in the corporate sector, Knackstedt says.

“Corporate travel benefits from it more than leisure, because corporate is high-volume and high-repetitive transactional, whereas many leisure agents are more hands on, with a lot more quotations. There’s wholesaling, there’s packaging, there’s a lot more complexity. That being said, our customers use us to process some components of all kinds of transactions, whether it’s ticketing, charging credit cards or generating invoices and itineraries.

“But the real benefit comes when you’re doing a lot of repetitive tasks and charging of a lot of transaction fees – and that tends to be more the case with corporate agencies.”

Knackstedt says Troovo also supports platforms that come from traditional content sources, “be they Expedia, booking.com, hotels or consolidators. Our technology doesn’t rely on GDS although we are interfaced with all the GDSs.”

Troovo’s capabilities are now extending beyond the travel industry, with the financial, technical and payment processing space being ripe for the efficiencies, accuracy and security of robotic process automation. Troovo is readily adaptable and deployable across the global B2B payments industry, with significant opportunities taking shape for the company in 2017.

Travel remains the core. As Knackstedt puts it: “Very few people say they become a travel agent to process data. We look at our platform as liberating people to devote more time to things they enjoy and are good at.”

Written by Peter Needham

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