With both Asda and The Daily Mail as customers, Vibe Software hopes its diverse stable will help strengthen its reputation for building bespoke websites
The travel technology firm behind the new Daily Mail travel website might not currently enjoy the highest profile in the sector, but the company hopes that is set to change.
Vibe Software was set up in 2007, and since then has operated the travel site of one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, Asda. The site is not extensively promoted but it does huge amounts of business.
Vibe, originally formed as part of the P&P Associates group of travel companies, has been commercially active as a separate entity only since 2010.
Winning the Daily Mail tender was a coup. But with just four months to turn the site around, it heralded some hard work to get everything working ahead of launch last month.
Vicki Mills, head of sales and account management, said it was the experience of working on the Asda site, as well as other in-house P&P projects, that gave Vibe the edge.
And she said with two such different high-profile sites now in the market, both supported by Vibe, it can showcase its flexibility to produce bespoke solutions for a range of clients.
“The Daily Mail wanted something different from the normal online booking solution. It’s more about experiences and lifestyle. It wanted a very tailored solution in a short time frame.
“We got our own graphic design and development team involved and worked to produce something quite bespoke.
“We have always been good at technology, but for a company such as the Mail to take the leap and go with a relatively new technology company puts us on the map.
“It showcases our broad range of skills. If you look at Asda and the Mail, they are two very different sites for two very different demographics.”
Vibe is keen to maintain its reputation for bespoke solutions rather than template off-the-shelf products, despite often being asked by potential clients if there is a Vibe ‘lite’ option.
While bespoke can be more costly, the advantages – the impact on search engine marketing – prove it can be a better value-for-money option.
Vibe’s model, which mixes software licensing and levying a booking fee per transaction, means its clients’ success is also its success.
This relationship approach means there is a lot of hand-holding with clients, particularly early on, said Mills.
“We have a support system that enables our customers to come to us for help. It’s an ongoing relationship. It’s become so vast there’s a need to help our customers with what they are doing. It’s very much hands-on analysing their sites and supporting them.”
This close working relationship is important in a sector that Mills concedes has had trust issues.
“I have been in technology for 10 years and there is a trust issue – some people have been burned by technology over the years. They have paid out tens of thousands of pounds with one technology company and never had anything out of them. It helps we have some big brand names behind us and proven software.”
Although most of its clients are online travel agents, Vibe sees scope in the corporate travel agency sector as existing firms look to add a business travel arm to their companies. And Mills said growth was likely to come from specialists such as Omega Travel, Emerald Travel and consolidator JTA, which have developed a niche market.
Areas such as mobile and customer relationship management are ripe for development. Vibe has recently started offering customers SuperOffice technology, which it has integrated.
And overseas expansion is also on the cards, with Vibe having signed its first international deal with new Travel Republic owner Dnata, part of the Emirates Group, at the end of August.
“If you stop developing how can you keep pace with what’s going on out there? You have to be constantly evolving,” said Mills. “Technology in travel is not quite there in some areas – we are perhaps a little stuck with legacy systems such as viewdata – but compared with other industries we are well ahead of the game.”