Imagine that you book a trip to the Canary Islands. You’re looking forward to the journey, but then days before the flight departs – when you have already made the full payment – the news reaches you that your travel agent is bankrupt. Although they received your payments, they didn’t pay airline and your hotel yet. So instead of leaving for the sun, you stay at home with a severe dent in your bank account. Together with Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR), Ximedes develops software to make sure that this nightmare will never come true.
In the early summer of 2017 SGR turned to Ximedes asking for a Reconciliation platform. SGR is a foundation that protects travelers and traveling agencies from losing money. A problem that sometimes occurs in travelling is that a travel agency goes bankrupt after receiving a full payment from the traveler and before making payments to the tour operator. In the Netherlands, the failure of OAD in 2013 hurt many travelers, but also tour operators. But similar problems arise when a tour operator goes bankrupt, leaving them unable to carry out a flight, a bus tour or offering hotel accommodations.
SGR already offers services where bank guarantees between travel agencies and tour operators prevent the occurrence of travelers or tour operator losing money should a situation as OAD re-occur. However, the situation can be drastically improved, both in convenience as in the cost level.
SGR and Ximedes are now working on a platform where the travelers’ money is sent straight to SGR’s account, regardless when they make a payment from the traveler’s agent shop using a terminal, or online. At the same time, we receive a ‘file’ containing all travel data for the trip: when payments are expected, who the tour operators are and what amounts they are entitled to. Using that information, the payments made by travelers can be reconciled. Knowing with what trip payments are associated means that we can sent it to the right tour operator in due time. Of course, the platform also makes a payment to the travel agency, reimbursing everyone for their services.
As almost always Ximedes first developed a Minimum Viable Product, that will go live soon. Using this MVP, we will learn what has to be built in the subsequent phases. In the meantime, we are already automating the reconciliation process.