Interview with Peter Whittle of Call-link Communications

Established in 1998, Call-link is a dynamic company created to deliver world - class communication and technology solutions to the corporate, SME, and SOHO market place.
Call-link Communications is a `one-stop supplier` offering a number of services to the UK Travel Agency & Tour Operator community. As a one-stop supplier, Call - Link provide all the hardware & applications that a travel agent may need. Essentially, this should greatly reduce their total costs for technology.

I caught up with Peter Whittle at the World Travel Market and he agreed to be interviewed
Q. Are you specifically aiming your services to travel agents?

A. Most of our products are aimed at the UK travel agency community. We integrate our products with our sister company Tarsc, the largest back-office system supplier in the UK. We already service at least 2000 travel agents, or 7,500 desktops in the UK

Q. What Products Do Call-Link Communications Offer?

A. Amongst Call-link`s products are voice solutions that will handle all calls coming into the travel agency -intelligently distributing them to the right staff. Also available are front and back office applications that help agents sell more holidays and manage their business within the retail site. Call-Link also provides travel agents with a service for designing and hosting web sites. We can offer PC hardware & data connections onto the secure Call-link network & the Internet. Additionally, we offer access to view data to make bookings. So really, everything a travel agent needs from technology.

Q. What makes Tarsc a leading systems provider?

A. I think the key to our success is that Tarsc has been around for 15 years and it is trusted. Compare it to a quality car. It`s like the Rolls-Royce of back office systems. People know it works. And now with the link with Call-Link, we can offer the communications solutions as well: All in an integrated package. People can see that Tarsc is robust, it`s tested and it works.

Q. Is that a recent partnership?

A. It is. Call-Link has really come into the market this year. So if you put together the pedigree and market presence of Tarsc with all the other applications that we can provide, I think we’ve got a very strong business.


Q. Can you give me any current sales figures for the company?

A. That`s difficult because there are so many different products. Take one product and there could be as many as 2,500 Travel Agents using it. We are signing up from small independent travel agents through to your larger sites with a hundred travel agencies. Deals are being signed on a weekly basis.

Q. How can your systems suit the individual client`s needs?

The great thing about a lot of our products is the extent to which they can be customised for individual needs. For instance, we have just launched a new travel portal & selling system called Magic Desktop. This product is customisable, so we don`t just give a travel agent what we think they need. They can customise it. For instance, if they have a particular brand/ colour scheme in the shop, the look of the product can be altered to match. They can even choose the content within the travel portal that their staff can access, such as car rental companies or flight consolidators.

Q. Who are your main consumer market.

In terms of our web hosting and design services, we actually host about 700 web sites for different travel agents. We also supply search engines for holiday searches on consumer facing web sites , as well as holiday brochure databases. But our main market is in giving travel agents the technology tools to sell more effectively to the consumer market.

Q. Where are your products most popular?

In the UK and increasingly into Ireland

Q. What company acquisitions are expected in the near future?

No comment

Q. How have the events of September the 11th affected your business?

It`s interesting. We obviously supply technology to UK travel agency community and of course, everyone is talking about what happened. We supply databases for the lates market. We are actually finding that the lates market is holding up pretty well. There is a lot of gloom about how the holiday market is 20 - 40% down. That may be true for full brochure availability, but there are still opportunities lates market and increasingly UK short breaks.

Q. Given that the theme of this year`s World Travel Market is Customer Relationship Management can you tell me how Tarsc and Call Link address this?

We build a lot of tools into our products that enable customer loyalty. We give retail travel agents the opportunity to capture customer information and profile the type of holiday that the customer is interested in. They can then implement marketing campaigns and loyalty campaigns to advertise particular offers on these products. It is also possible to send these messages via an email/ text message and generally keep in contact with them. Our products will even enable travel agents to access the anniversary when they last booked a holiday. When it has been a year to date, they can contact the client and suggest that it`s time to book another holiday. This facility is available within our magic desktop products with call link, so we`re providing travel agents with the opportunity to actually do something with customer relationship marketing, cost effectively. We consider it to be an essential feature of our product.