Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) specialist allfiled.com is in the throes of setting up a separate travel arm as it targets the sector with its Travel Assistant application.
Talks are underway with a potential chief executive for the new company will be funded by Allfiled initially as it looks to raise millions in capital investment from private equity backers.
Discussions have already begun with a number of well known travel industry suppliers and the buying platform is due to go live over the next two to three months.
VRM remains very much in its infancy, but has been developed as an academic concept by Doc Searls at Harvard University in the US.
It basically turns the current model of customers giving up their data for free to be exploited or owned by e-commerce companies on its head by giving the buyer power over their own information.
Empowering the customer to manage their own data will also address concerns about privacy and become as accepted as the concept of customers owning their own cash, Allfiled believes.
Stephen Bennett, Allfiled founder, said VRM will work in tandem with CRM to offer retailers a secondary selling platform.
“Data is now a currency,” he said. “Five years ago companies started to understand that, now customers are starting to understand that.
“VRM is about personal power, it’s about giving the customer the ability to buy rather than the vendor the ability to sell.
“Putting it in a travel perspective; there is currently a while process of GDS-backed systems and people trying to sell stuff with this myopic focus on book them a flight, book a hotel, job done.
“They do not book them car hire because they might lose the next bit of business. We can now give holiday operators a bit of technology that offers customers a VRM platform with their data saved.
“This then allows suppliers to message that customer based just on their profile. They don’t know who they are, just that they are flying out of Gatwick in the next 21 days and where they live.
“This lets the customer decide. Today it’s all about the lifetime ownership of the customer, not just grabbing whatever margin you can on an individual holiday sale.”
Allfiled offers its Travel Assistant as a white label solution which sits behind the retail process in the role of an affiliate. Bennett said 70% of revenues generated go back to the distributing partner.
The system has been built initially with a “half way house” solution offering partners the ability to block rival firms or suppliers in competing sectors from accessing customers.
But Bennett believes as VRM establishes itself totally open systems will come to dominate and the consumer will decide where to hold their data in the same way as they now decide which utility providers they use.
“VRM will always work in conjunction with CRM but slowly over a period of 10 to 15 years people will own their own data just like they own their cash,” said Bennett.