The value of transactions by Evolvi, the UK corporate rail booking engine, is set to rise by 25% this year compared to 2007.
Ken Cameron, managing director of Evolvi Rail System, said it did ”150m of business last year and was ”on target” for £200m in 2008.
”We have 270 travel management companies using the system. It has only been around for three years so it is quite a success story.”
Mr Cameron told ABTN that the booking engine built and launched by the then Harry Weeks Travel (now part of Capita Business Travel) was now seeking to expand.
Currently it handles UK domestic train journeys.
But Mr Cameron said they had been in talks with Eurostar to include its high speed services to the continent on its booking facilities.
But he said Railteam, an alliance of seven major train operating companies, among them Eurostar and the French and German rail networks, was developing a £30m common booking system to allow seamless rail travel in Western Europe.
This is due to launch early next year.
”It makes more sense to wait until this is launched and then talk jointly to the companies. When the scheme is completed and ready we shall enter into dialogue with them,” he said.
Mr Cameron who joined Evolvi in January from the Rail Settlement Plan, said that while more corporates were using rail, business travellers were becoming ”more discerning” and ”smarter” in how they bought their tickets.
He said the available fares had been simplified but people were also looking at what fares they bought.
”They are often buying two singles so if they have a journey at 9am, they will buy a non-flexible ticket on the journey but an open, flexible ticket for coming back. They are playing the game on the availability of fares,” he said.
He said the arrival of Evolvi - ”there was no one in the market place before us” - had made booking rail by corporates, either through their agents or self booking, much easier.
The existing system, Elgar was not integrated and provided limited Management Information (MI).
”Evolvi is a system built by a TMC for other TMCs and the focus was on back office functions.
”It provides detailed MI, can upload profiles and check on policy compliance. The data it provides is for the use of travel manager's and requires far less administration.
”Evolvi has broken down a few barriers regarding rail bookings. That is now a much easier experience,” he said.