COMTEC

Origins

The company was incorporated in 1995 by Simon Powell and Dominic Twitchin, and was initially operated from a spare room in the offices of Holiday Express (a travel agency company owned by Simon’s father). The company’s objectives were to develop computer software for the travel industry using Simon’s practical knowledge of the Travel Industry and Dominic’s computer programming expertise. The business was financed by the introduction of share capital of £20k, a Welsh Office RSA grant of £30k and a bank loan of £75k. The company had the crucial advantage of being able to test and prove their software prior to general release, using the live facilities available within Holiday Express. This proved a crucial element in the success of the company. The biggest barrier to the success of the business has been persuading the large companies to adopt the Comtec suite of hardware and software systems and on-going maintenance and support. There was also the problem of persuading them of the confidentiality and security of data. They had to be persuaded that a small South Wales company was able to develop complex software solutions and provide reliable 24 hour support and service for its IT systems. Previously all the large companies had their own internal IT departments developing bespoke software and providing technical support for their own in-house systems.

Success Factor

The company has successfully adopted a policy of developing new products in advance of the market and its competitors by anticipating future needs and trends within the industry taking advantage of new technological developments and the future needs of holidaymakers. This has been achieved by employing a mix of personnel some with practical knowledge of the travel industry, complimented by highly qualified IT staff who participate in deciding the content and design of products to ensure that they have commercial merit and are technically sound. For example, the travel industry was cutting distribution costs through increasing the use online bookings using ‘E’ commerce technology. Comtec had the solutions to their problems but had to persuade the trade that they were capable of delivering and providing ongoing maintenance support and also demonstrate the ability to continually update and improve the product range to match new technology. The key breakthrough for the company came in 2002 when the company’s software was adopted by First Choice and Mytravel. This contract was worth £5m and involved the company tailoring its standard products to their bespoke requirements. This vote of confidence has persuaded other large companies to follow suite and adopt the Comtec range, and this is reflected in the quantum leap in turnover over the last 24 months

The Future

The company realises that future growth in the current market sector would be restricted and that it could no longer sustain the growth experienced over the last two years that has resulted in 60% market share. To continue to grow, it has decided to seek new markets within the travel industry and develop suitable software, and use the management skills and direction of Amadeus PLC to identify new business opportunities within the travel industry sector in which they operate and to provide finance to promote future growth. These objectives have been achieved by the development of the Dynamic Holiday Package, which is directed at the needs of the independent traveller and allows clients to package their own itineraries by selecting flights, accommodation, car hire and other travel accessories using ‘E’ commerce technology, and by establishing a statistical database to provide commercial information to the trade providing essential information on past, current and future trends within the industry to allow them to make strategic commercial assessments.