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Network Revamp: Prime Travels utilises technology to expand its business

July 27, 2011
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Established in 1992, Prime Air Global Limited (Prime Travels) offers services to corporate and retail customers. The company has offices in New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, London and New York, besides a network of franchises in India that covers cities like Aizawl, Bhubaneswar, Bokaro, Karnal, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Visakhapatnam. The company’s e-commerce travel portal, primetravels.com, was launched in 1999.

Prime Travels is an accredited member of the American Society of Travel Agents, the International Air Transport Association, the Travel Agents Association of India and the Travel Agents Federation of India.

With the aim of keeping up with the latest technology and retaining its leadership position in the travel segment, Prime Travels upgraded its basic communications infrastructure to enable streamlined data and information sharing.

tele.net tracks the development of the company’s IT and telecom infrastructure…

The legacy system 

The company’s online portal was launched in 1999, with almost 90 per cent of the applications running on DOS-based systems.

“Between 1992 and 1999, all major applications such as reservations and accounting systems were running on DOS. This was a peer-to-peer network. Hard disk capacities were limited at the time and taking data back-ups was not a regular/usual practice for most companies,” says Arun Varma, chief executive officer at Prime Travels.

The company soon realised that it needed to adopt the latest technologies in order to make the distribution and reach of its products/services more efficient. “This meant overhauling hardware and software systems and changing our mindset completely,” says Varma.

The shift 

The company’s first step was to build its presence online. “In early 2000, we became the country’s first e-commerce-enabled company to go live on the internet. Our portal offers customers a wide range of services, including a reservation system, a payment gateway, etc.,” says Varma.

Other components of the telecom set-up include Cisco’s routers and dedicated leased lines to maintain and streamline interoffice connectivity. “We are using a dedicated leased line offering 2 Mbps bandwidth and 1:1 contention. This offers advantages such as secure and always-on connectivity and bandwidth-on-demand, which can be easily upgraded depending on the requirement.”

For last mile connectivity, the travel major developed optic fibre infrastructure. “This medium seemed to be the most viable option, given that it was less expensive than copper and more flexible, making it ideal for carrying digital information,” says Varma.

Prime Travels took several other initiatives to modernise its systems. For example, it invested in enterprise applications such as electronic customer relationship management. This involved using technology to organise, automate and synchronise business processes such as sales activities, marketing, customer service and technical support. The goal was to find, attract, add and retain clients  as well as reduce costs of marketing and client services. Toll-free customer support was included as a value-added service for Indian customers.

Prime Travels also installed dedicated web and mail servers, protected its telecom backbone via enterprise antivirus software systems and used failover systems to reduce redundancy.

Moreover, multiple internet service providers were chosen in order to avoid dependence on a single operator as well as reduce response time.

Benefits and challenges 

According to Varma, owing to its early- mover advantage, the company has grown from a small, single-location entity to a large network of offices across India as well as in the UK and the US. The investment in technology has opened up a huge market for Prime Travels.

The company’s offices are always connected with redundancies for internet service providers and equipment failure.

However, the company faced a few challenges while undertaking the revamp. “Cost was a major challenge as this upgrade was funded through internal accruals. Training employees to adapt to new processes, changing their mindset and developing policies that ensure data security were the other major concerns,” says Varma. 

Net, net, this timely infrastructure upgrade has proved beneficial to the company in multiple ways. Today, the company is a major player in the corporate and online e-commerce retail sectors, handling all travel management services of major Fortune 500 companies.

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