Brittany Ferries is to launch an online booking service for its package holiday and accommodation operations by November 2003.
The ferry company is broadening an online strategy that has helped double its turnover since 2000 and created savings by migrating customers from higher cost channels. The company estimates that processing an online booking costs about £2, compared to £14 for a call centre.
Brittany has had an online booking system for ferry crossings since the end of 2000. Last year it generated £15m. The firm now plans to encourage customers to book package holidays and accommodation online.
The online booking engine has been built by Goss Interactive, the company's IT partner, which used C++ to build an extension to the Coldfusion scripting language used on Brittany's website.
Goss Interactive is also developing an XML-based platform to enable the booking engine to communicate with Brittany's reservations systems.
Steve James, Brittany's sales and development director, explained that the data transfer used for its existing booking engine, an EDI standard called Unicorn, is not sophisticated enough for users to book multiple requests.
"The industry is moving to an XML platform and we are looking towards working more closely with our agents - XML gives us the flexibility to do that," he said.
Brittany's new IT
- Brittany has launched an XML-based "track and trace" facility for hauliers to allow them to monitor the transit of goods
- Travel agents' monthly statements have gone online
- An "online amendment system" allows customers to change their orders after submitting them without contacting the call centre. A typical booking is made about nine months ahead with an average of three amendments after booking.