TTN talked to the CEO about his customer-focused philosophy, how the company stands out from the clutter, and the challenges and trends today in travel technology.
When you started out, what ambitions did you have?
My motivation was always to build something impactful, that can bring real value and relevance to those using it. In the first two years of its existence dcs plus managed a variety of IT projects for clients in different industries but all this changed when in 2004 we had the opportunity to work with a travel agency that was struggling with their ERP system. Then was when I saw the opportunity and sort of volunteered for building this ERP system. It started as a challenge, to see if we can deliver this kind of solution and eight months later into the process we delivered the first version and the client was ecstatic. That was when I knew this was dcs plus’s mission.
Our approach was different, one that was not based on competition assessment and copycatting or filling in their product offering gaps. We started by putting the customer’s needs first. What was working for them and what not. We talked with everybody involved in the day-to-day activity of the company, from travel agents, to agency’s management and finance people and we tried to understand their problems and business challenges. This mindset sat at the foundation of our R&D process and it helped us build our first travel product, a travel ERP for one of the largest TMCs in the CESE region.
Can you give us a brief about your current product portfolio at dcs plus?
dcs plus is the only company in the travel sector that has its own full software stack addressing the needs of all types of travel operators. Our product vision is simple and cut-through - offer an enterprise-grade, business critical end-to- end solution. So, we created all dcs plus products interconnected. This means that you can manage your full mid-back office operations in TINA, you can create and manage your own inventory in AIDA, you can aggregate and distribute travel content from your own inventory as well as GDS's and Wholesalers in IRIX. You can use TRIP to sell all this content to your online customers and keep your customers close in TravList.
Throw light on your key partnerships in the Middle East.
dcs plus has chosen to be not only a technology provider, but a strong and reliable partner, managing to build successful collaborations. In the attempt to shape the future of global travel industry, our company joined efforts with key travel industry players from all major GDSs (Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport), to TMCs (LCCi, GlobalStar, Radius Travel) and even airlines (Lufthansa Group, Emirates) – entering together into global, strategic partnerships, with the goal of sharing further our know-how, expertise and visionary thinking with our worldwide customers. All these global partnerships reflect in the region as well, bringing huge added value to our customers’ customers and elevate the state of the industry in the area.
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
The company, regardless the market where we operate in, will always focus on developing solutions for the travel vertical. We are a motivated team whose mission is to understand the challenges of the travel chain and from there, to seek solutions. Our ambition is to guide the regional players in understanding the true value that an enterprise-grade platform can bring and shift their focus towards adopting the global trends that shape the industry nowadays: cost optimisation and process automation; branded fares; NDC and other industry standards; REST APIs etc. We are proud that we have already managed to implement this vision with some of the largest key players in the region, one recent success story that I would like to mention, being the one of Fursan Travel.
What percentage of your revenue comes from the Middle East?
At this point I would say that is less than 10 per cent but bear in mind that dcs plus is a global company, with a customer base spread worldwide and an amazing growth rate. This year solely we have opened two new offices for the APAC and LATAM areas and enhanced our Middle East operations by consolidating our local team and bringing aboard key players. The focus for the area is to drive adoption of the enterprise-grade platform among the regional travel companies and help these businesses embrace the industry trends.
Does this mean that the region is under-served when it comes to enterprise solution providers?
The region revolved a lot on local or/and regional small players and from that standpoint, yes we can surely state that it is under served. We saw a lot of projects failing due to the lack of experience and reliability of the technology providers. We saw this as an opportunity to trigger a mindset reset among the travel companies in the region and chose to advocate for the deployment of enterprise solutions. The market is ready and that is why we chose to heavily invest in the area.
Tell us more about your competition/or lack thereof.
In the last years, the travel industry has become overwhelming in its dimensions, diversity and complexity. There are a lot of players in this highly fragmented market, but if we were to refer to players that could really sustain large projects, there are only a handful of companies that could match up our technological offering. Most of them are big tech companies based in Europe (Germany mainly) and US. The rest of the players focus their product offering on one or two travel operator’s needs, never full-stack and only on a local level, without going global.
Tell us about the challenges you are facing this year.
For us any challenge is an opportunity to learn something new and make the most out of it. For example, if we were to look at the widespread global adoption of NDC standard and branded fares we understood the importance to keep up with the latest industry developments and managed to adapt and be among the first and very few tech companies worldwide able to offer this for all GDSs and major airlines.
Are there any tech trends you would like to throw light on?
What we see a lot is the universal need of the travel players to remain relevant. Because of the rapidly changing context of the distribution structure, everyone in this industry emphasizes the need of reducing operating costs. This is a prerequisite for any player in the travel, regardless the location and size of their business. On top of this, travel technology requirements revolve around compliance with all the industry standards such as NDC, adoption of branded fares, embracing disruptive models (Airbnb/ Uber) improved customer experience and process efficiency.
What is the future of enterprise technology solutions for the travel and tourism industry?
With certainty in this industry, change is the only constant. If I were to predict some future developments I would place my bet on “going global locally” philosophy. This was something that would have looked utopic and nice-to-have a few years ago but became mandatory nowadays to succeed in any market.
How do you as dcs plus strive to become better over the years?
Investing, investing and investing. In every aspect of the business. From R&D to customer experience, to all commercial capabilities - being it customer retention, the local headquarters that sustain business scalability and build relevant strategic partnerships or marketing efforts.
Are there any specific product(s) that you would like to highlight?
Our technology is designed to anticipate any scenario and respond to any situation, both online and offline. We offer an enterprise-grade, business critical end-to- end solution with a 360 coverage of the needs of the travel operator.
Our flagship product is TINA. I’d say that TINA is the only real ERP specially designed for travel. Think about it as the software translation of the travel agent day to day operations able to accommodate virtually any business model, to increase its efficiency and to remodel it to achieve the desired results.
The reality is that we have created all dcs plus products interconnected. This way each dcs plus product can cover different operations of the travel company, for instance with CSBT you could aggregate and distribute travel content from your own inventory as well as GDS's and Wholesalers and service your SME customers, or if you were an OTA you could use TRIP to sell all your content to your online customers.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.