By Srinath Srinivasan
Kochi-based Verteil Technologies aims too ease the woes of air travellers and airlines with its internet based system that replaces a decades old system for transactions and information exchange between airlines and air travel agents. “Traditionally, content, ancillary services and any other information between air service providers and travel agents were transferred over the Global Distribution System (GDS). It is a text and numbers only system and uses decades-old EDIFACT protocol. We use New Distribution Capability (NDC), a protocol that allows us to engineer products and services that are delivered over the internet,” says Jerrin Jos, founder and CEO, Verteil Technologies.
Currently, there is a clear gap between digital experience outside the flight and on board. A lot of services are not personalised using digital technologies. “Due to GDS, even meal selection is limited. You can not customise your meal like you do on a regular food app. Like this, a lot of retail products, content and services are limited. It could be a great revenue channel for airlines if a traveller’s journey could be personalised,” says Jos.
According to him, because of GDS, the travel agents are also expected to follow strict guidelines. A slight mistake could cost them huge penalties. This is also a reason why any change after ticket confirmation takes a lot of time and effort. Verteil wants to ease this problem as well. “As a result of the highly rigid nature of the existing system, every single action in the process is costly and needs extreme care. This reflects inflated ticket prices for the traveller,” says Jos.
With cloud based technology, Verteil offers API for travel agents and airlines to integrate into their websites. One of the biggest challenges for Jos was to bring about a behavioural change across the airline industry and make the new technology more acceptable, and the pandemic helped overcome and ease the challenge. “With reduced travel, the pandemic gave time for the airline executives to think about digital transformation,” says Jos. “Now we look forward to the world reopening and we will see the returns when people travel normally once again in volumes,” he adds.
Another important challenge that Jos is trying to overcome is the perception of important stakeholders about a digital products company operating out of Kochi.
“While there are great product companies in India, for an industry like airlines which is dominated by companies from the West, it takes a lot more time to form trust with Indian brands like us,” says Jos. “Word of mouth plays an important role. Today some top airline executives who recognise and recommend us, play a pivotal role in our business expansion,” he adds.
Verteil, which is also backed by the Kerala government, plans to raise $15 million in the coming months. Jos says that diversification is inevitable as it wants to cover the traveller’s experience end to end. “We are working towards cross-selling and up-selling more travel experiences at various destinations, in a hyperlocal way. We also plan to partner with in flight infotainment technology providers to personalise a traveller’s content and retail experience,” says Jos.