Jetset Travelworld and Qantas Holidays are counting on a pair of computing projects to give them a leg-up in Australia's burgeoning online travel industry as part of their proposed $800 million merger. The projects include further improvements to a $4 million Qantas business travel system and a new Jetset online booking engine - both due for completion this year.
But the businesses also recognise information technology as one of the key risks in their operations as the travel industry becomes more dependent on an internet that is awash with viruses, hackers and other security threats.
The IT plans were outlined in Jetset documents before an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders next month when backers of the travel agent will vote on its planned merger with Qantas Holidays and Qantas Business Travel. The tie-up would create a travel agency with annual revenue of about $800 million that would need to emphasise online travel booking in its growth strategy.
Tourism Australia has estimated 25 per cent of travellers now book their holidays on the internet with Jetset, Qantas, WebJet, Flight Centre, Wotif.com and numerous other local and global businesses.
About 30 per cent of travel bookings will be made online by 2012, up from just 6 per cent in 2002, research from Tourism Australia and a number of other organisations has tipped.
In the documents provided to shareholders on Wednesday, Jetset in particular pointed to Qantas Business Travel's internet booking system as the type of online platform that would help increase the company's market share.
QBT is having a $4 million upgrade to its agency manager and selling technology. It expects to complete the project by October.
For its part, Jetset is building a new online booking engine due for completion this year.
Phase one of the system is up and running for domestic and trans-Tasman travel bookings while the second stage will let Jetset customers book international holidays online.
Together the systems will broaden the proposed JTL Group's reach online but Jetset also noted that the growing role of the internet in its business might also present risks.
"The combined JTL Group will rely heavily on internet and other technology operation platforms that may be susceptible to viruses and other technical problems," Jetset executives wrote. "Although the combined JTL Group will have appropriate systems in place to manage these risks, their occurrence has the potential to interrupt the efficient conduct of the combined JTL Group's business."
Jetset also noted investment in new information systems was required if the company was to compete effectively online.
With the Qantas Holidays and Qantas Business Travel segments of the JTL Group, Qantas Airways would still assist in development and management of computer platforms. Qantas Airways is contracted to provide IT services to its former business units until 2013.
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