With online travel agent ebookers poised to go live with new rail booking functionality later this year, the technology firm behind it has claimed the last big complex problem in travel has been solved.
SilverRail Technologies claims to have cracked the age-old problem of retailing rail as seamlessly and easily as air travel.
Last October SilverRail launched its multi-country, multi-operator booking platform SilverCore with product in the UK, US, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Spain is being added now and should be available by early autumn, said Aaron Gowell chief executive and co-founder of SilverRail Technologies.
“We are a product company, not a distributor, and our job is to fix the guts of the technology problem. We have done that several times in the travel space.
“We are really good at fixing complex problems and this was a really complex problem – maybe the last big complex travel problem out there.
“No one has really focused on how to make rail as easy to book as air so someone like Expedia or ebookers can say give me a connection and I will plug that into my system.”
Gowell said as well as ebookers, most corporate travel management tools are integrating with SilverCore including Amadeus’ Egencia, Orbitz for Business and Reardon Commerce that powers American Express.
Gowell said most corporate self-booking tools will be using the system by the end of the year.
“No one else has built a true platform for rail where you can get one connection and plug it all in.
“Because we have figured out the product layer and all the rules, when you plug in you don’t have to work out how the ticketing or how search works for each supplier.”
SilverRail believes rail will become increasingly important for online travel agencies as they focus more on their lucrative hotels business.
“Many leisure companies are focused on selling hotels, but if you do not have the transport piece to get someone to a hotel you lose the reason why someone would come to your site.
“It used to be that air was the milk at the back of the store but now it is rail that is the milk at the back of the store – 2012 is going to be a big year for rail.”
The scale of development of high speed rail in Europe and beyond is expected to see a resurgence in the mode of transport as it becomes a viable and more environmentally-friendly alternative to flying.