This agreement will see Illusions connect JTB’s Central Sales Operations (CSO) B2B business to its unique World Travel eXchange (iWTX) system.
The brainchild of Illusions Online founder and CEO, Faisal Memon, iWTX allows all Illusions clients – market-leading tour operators, DMCs and travel agents located across five continents – to access and sell one another’s content.
For JTB’s CSO, a joint venture between JTB and Star Holiday Mart that sells inbound travel to Asia to a global market, having access to this revolutionary concept will aid its development from a relatively small business into a much larger operation, explained its manager of corporate & strategic planning, Naveed Zafar Durrani.
“The CSO is just one department at JTB’s Singapore headquarters and sells ground arrangements in Asia and the Pacific internationally, mainly to clients based in India, China and Indonesia,” he explained. “We have been up and running for three years and currently the company is not that big, handling between 40,000 to 50,000 passengers per year.
“We have offices in more than 23 cities in all the countries where we operate as ground service provider with our own vehicles and guides. From this perspective, no one can beat us on rates on the sightseeing and tours side, but what we need is hotel inventory and good hotel rates, and this is where the Illusions World Travel eXchange (iWTX) will make a huge difference to our business.”
Durrani said that because of the CSO’s modest business volumes at present, it was difficult to contract with hotels and get “close to suppliers”.
“We already buy from and have XML capabilities with GTA and Expedia but we want to go to the next level with iWTX where we are closer to the supplier; cutting out the middle man by going straight to the source,” he said.
“The key for us is to get good hotel rates to complement our ground product and if we can achieve this by working with other Illusions clients via the eXchange, it will benefit our business greatly.”
Durrani said he was targeting between 10 and 15% growth for the CSO business over the next year, a goal attainable by accessing good hotel rates using iWTX.
“If we are successful, we will look at what other technology solutions Illusions can offer us,” he said, “particularly as we are looking at launching a B2C business within the next few years”.
In addition, if participation in iWTX positively impacts JTB’s CSO division in Singapore, Durrani said other JTB regional offices that were looking to serve travel markets outside of the core market, Japan, would look to sign up to the system, starting with those based in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Such aggressive expansion plans involving several offices and divisions of JTB, which is an established and heavily influential travel firm in the Asian market, is a proposition that excites Illusions’ Memon, who described the CSO deal as “hugely significant”
“This is a major coup for Illusions given JTB’s status both regionally and globally,” he said.
“We are starting small with JTB’s CSO in Singapore, but we hope that once the division witnesses the power and potential of the eXchange in terms of accessing rates and new markets and increasing visibility globally, other divisions within the firm will look at what Illusions can offer, including our core product - customised and off-the-shelf web-based travel technology solutions that are a cut above the rest.”
Explaining how iWTX works, Memon, who developed the system in 2011 continued: “We have set up a distribution agreement with our clients so they can share product rates, inventory and content and we are the conduit.
“So JTB can access all the products provided by clients such as Go Vacation in Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, RMG in Singapore, Focus Asia in Vietnam, as well asNew World Travel in the US, Sunset Faraway Holidays in the UK, TUI Suisse in Switzerland and Al Rais Travel in the UAE,to name but a few.
“In turn, these clients, as well as our travel agent customers located across the Middle East and Asia will be able to access JTB’s products.”
All rates are updated automatically by the Illusions system adopted by each client taking exchange rates and mark-ups into account in real time.
Illusions provides iWTX free-of-charge to all clients, adding a “minute mark-up” as facilitator of these transactions, but still resulting in rates that are highly competitive.
“We are acting as a technology wholesaler in the 21st Century sense,” said Memon.“There are no costs involved so our mark ups are the bare minimum making us cheaper than most, if not all wholesalers out there.”
Illusions’ deal with JTB further elevates its status in the Asian market where in the past 12 months it has secured several big names as it sets out quickly conquer this continent.
The company, which at the end of last year hired a General Manager in Malaysia, with satellite operations in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, already boasts several of the region’s travel firm heavyweights on its client list.
They include three of the Asia’s leading DMCs – sister companies Go Vacation Thailand, Go Vacation Indonesia and Go Vacation Sri Lanka; Focus Asia in Vietnam; as well as established Penang-based tour operator, Tong Yan Travel & Tours.
“The reason we have secured so many high-profile accounts is that there are very few reputable technology companies offering the Asian travel market the level of automation it requires, as well as unique products such as the eXchange,” said Memon.
“We are currently in discussion with several more tour operators and DMCs, while our ever-expanding sales team in Asia is signing up almost one travel agent a week to iWTX.
“Illusions really does stand out from the crowd in Asiaand we expect to become the number one player in this competitive market in a very short time frame.”