Retail and corporate travel heavyweight Helloworld Travel (HWT) has revealed it is preparing to dive into a slew of new technology initiatives as the full service agency doubles down on IT efficiencies and better performance in a highly volatile market.

The company revealed on Wednesday it had pared its technology communications and property cost base back by 11.4 percent to just $25 million in its 2018 investor presentation, with group general manager for IT services and property Yusef Ahmed calling out system reliability in the face of external outages as a high point.

In a clear signal over the level of concern over performance and potential losses stemming from provider outages, Ahmed cited HWT’s “proven resiliency of systems during recent major incidents”.

The travel shop specifically listed the 11 hour Telstra DC outage on October 31, a 1 ½ hour South Melbourne power outage on November 7th and the evacuation of its Bourke St office on 9th November following the recent terrorist incident.

With the travel industry now a super competitive online affair, the scale of HWT’s IT shop is a good indication of its hardcore focus on uptime.

Ahmed cited that Helloworld now has 2200 desktops and laptops, more than 1500 servers and “1000’s of networking and security appliances.” Comms volume is also up there with 220,000 inbound calls a month and inbound email traffic circa 5.5 million per month.

Cybersecurity was also called out as a current initiative with prevention of “intentional robotic of other forms of attacks” listed as a priority.

Like hotels, for which travel agents sell inventory, the travel industry remains one of the most heavily targeted sectors because of the large volumes of current payment card, banking, passport and personal information it deals with for millions of people.

The sector was recently revealed to have become the target of suspected Chinese state hacking efforts after the Marriott hotel chain revealed details of 500 million guests had been compromised.

Ironically, the Chinese market remains one of the biggest growth markets for the Australian travel industry because on increasing visitors numbers here coupled with increasing domestic wealth in China.

The heavy complexity of travel transactions, which are by nature are multi-party, is also being targeted with simplification projects now running across bookings, fares, ticketing and service according to John Constable, Hello World’s group general manager for retail and commercial.

Constable revealed the group recently added a low-cost carrier range to its systems, inventory that normally flies outside of proprietary global distribution systems like Amadeus.

The push to mobile ticketing by many airlines now means agents can better aggregate and compile travel products using fewer interfaces, with electronic details emailed or apped to customers.

Helloworld listed its current full year guidance at between $76 to $80 million.


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