Interview with Anders Kjong CCO at WebBeds Europe
WebBeds is the world’s second largest and fastest growing B2B accommodation supplier in the travel industry, operating its business through a portfolio of brands comprising JacTravel, Sunhotels, Totalstay, Lots of Hotels, Destinations of the World, (DOTW), FIT Ruums and Umrah Holidays International. WebBeds provides a global distribution network of travel trade partners with the choice of 250,000 hotels in over 10,000 destinations worldwide. WebBeds started working with TravelgateX at different times throughout the history of our trading brands; Totalstay, JacTravel, Sunhotels and DOTW. “The first time we worked together was about five years ago – so we have a history together. We were aware that TravelgateX facilitated technology for small start-ups that did not have the resource of an in-house platform – which was our position at that time”, says Anders Kjong, CCO at Webbeds Europe.
Tell us a little about how did the business start, and how has it evolved over the years?
WebBeds is the B2B division of Australian-based Webjet Group (an ASX 200 listed company with AUD$3.5 billion in total annual turnover). WebBeds started in 2013 by establishing a start-up brand called Lots of Hotels in Dubai before acquiring Sunhotels in 2014. We then launched a brand called FITruums in Asia before acquiring JacTravel in 2017 and Destinations of the World late last year. It‘s been a very rapid expansion, through organic growth and via acquisitions, which means we are now the world’s fastest growing and second largest accommodation supplier to the travel industry.
Can you describe the importance of two key factors to Webbeds’s development: technology… and customer service.
Technology is core to our business. It underpins our ability to efficiently, consistently and reliably deliver inventory pricing to our customers as fast as possible. Clients want to be able to connect quickly and easily to a vast range of inventory. We are constantly investing into our technology to improve its performance and anticipate the changing needs of our clients. Customer service is extremely important to us. We have large multi-lingual teams in Romania and Spain servicing European clients in addition to global operations teams in the Middle East and Asia serving clients in those regions.
How long has Webbeds been a partner of TravelgateX? What did you know about us beforehand?
WebBeds started working with TravelgateX at different times throughout the history of our trading brands; Totalstay, JacTravel, Sunhotels and DOTW. The first time we worked together was around five years ago – so we have a history together. We were aware that TravelgateX facilitated technology for small start-ups that did not have the resource of an in-house platform – which was our position at that time.
What led you to move to TravelgateX? What are the main factors that influenced your decision?
We invest heavily in our own in-house technology to connect to clients. However, if a direct connection is not possible, TravelgateX is one of our favoured technology platforms. Throughout the years TravelgateX has proved a reliable and robust technology provider and more easily customised to our requirements than other ‘off the shelf’ platforms.
How easy was it to integrate the TravelgateX API – and how long did it take?
Actually, it was a simple and fast process: the integration of most clients is normally completed within one week or less. New clients can get our updated portfolio easily and without any certification needed.
What are the benefits of using the TravelgateX API?
One of the main benefits of using the TravelgateX API is that we have a wider reach and access to prospect clients we are unable to have direct connections to.
How does working with TravelgateX and using the TravelgateX API help you to achieve your business goals?
We are a company targeting booking growth rates 5x higher than the underlying market, so we need partners that will support and enable us to achieve this growth in a fast, efficient, scalable manner. However, we also want a partner who is thinking about and investing in the future. Working with TravelgateX is helping us in our journey towards these goals.
You partner with many other tech companies – what makes TravelgateX different?
From commercial point of view, the level of customisation on the client or supplier side is better than many competitors therefore a lot more versatile than other platforms.
You are now part of the Buyers/Sellers, what benefits has this brought to you?
We have now a broader range of possibilities in terms of reporting and tools and closer support.
What’s the most interesting or useful thing to come out of a TravelgateX meeting? In what ways have these sessions made a difference to your relationship with TravelgateX?
The influence of AI in our industry and how new technologies related to this will shape the travel industry was interesting to learn more about. But at the same time, what stayed with me was how important the human factor is – of meeting people face-to-face to exchange ideas and common experiences really makes a difference in understanding issues more thoroughly and in context.
Lastly, how would you describe TravelgateX in three single words?
Reliable, responsive, flexible.