11/12/2008 - 09:35

Air NZ takes stake in Perth tech firm

11/12/2008 - 09:35

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Air New Zealand has taken a major stake in Perth-based leisure technology firm V Cubed, with the two companies to establish a joint venture to launch V3's tourism booking exchange in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has taken a major stake in Perth-based leisure technology firm V Cubed, with the two companies to establish a joint venture to launch V3's tourism booking exchange in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand announced it had acquired a cornerstone shareholding in the online tourism company, but would not disclose the dollar value of the investment.

V3 has developed a technology called open booking exchange (OBX), which allows travel distributors to access and book inventory from tourism operators, such as hotels. Distributors include travel agents, government bodies and websites such as lastminute.com.

V3 chief executive, and former CEO of the Western Australian Tourism Commission, Shane Crockett, said the Australian OBX hosts more than 2,500 inventory businesses, with more than 200 distributors using the exchange.

"The exchange provides a common technology platform for vendors of tourism products to make them available to travel agents, websites, government websites, any distributor anywhere in the world," he told WA Business News.

The OBX currently operates in Australia and the UK. As a result of the acquisition, Air New Zealand and V3, through a joint venture business, will establish a similar exchange in New Zealand.

Former Air New Zealand general manager Chris Hunter has been appointed CEO of that new joint venture business.

V3 has its head office in Northbridge with 40 staff, and also has a Sydney office with 25 staff and a representative in Adelaide.

In a statement, Air New Zealand chief executive Norm Thompson said the acquisition was part of the airline's strategy to further diversify into the wider tourism sector.

The New Zealand exchange is expected to take shape in the first half of 2009.

 

The announcement is pasted below:

 

Air New Zealand announced today that it had acquired a cornerstone shareholding in Australian online tourism specialists V3 (Vcubed Pty Ltd).

Air New Zealand Deputy Chief Executive Officer Norm Thompson said the acquisition was part of the airline's strategy to further diversify into the wider tourism sector.

V3 provides its open booking exchange (OBX™) technology for tourism suppliers and distributors in Australia, and Mr Thompson said Air New Zealand and V3, through a joint venture, would establish a similar tourism exchange in New Zealand.

The OBX™ is available to all tourism and travel operators and distributors and will be run in New Zealand as a standalone business, independent of Air New Zealand.

It works by allowing distributors to access live book-able inventory from tourism operators in a real-time marketplace, and has exciting potential for New Zealand tourism operators.

Mr Thompson said a New Zealand exchange would help local tourism businesses by providing them with a cost-effective way of increasing their reach to distributors.

"For example, it will allow a local hotel operator to offer accommodation directly to a multitude of online retailers," he said.

Air New Zealand's commitment to playing a role in the wider tourism industry was behind its decision to acquire a stake in V3and establish an exchange in New Zealand, he said.

"Air New Zealand's fortunes are inextricably linked with that of our tourism sector. What's good for tourism in New Zealand and our tourism operators will have natural flow-on benefits for the airline."

Having enjoyed outstanding success in the Australian market, V3 Chief Executive Officer Shane Crockett said: "We are extremely pleased to have Air New Zealand as a cornerstone investor and strategic partner for this breakthrough initiative in digital marketing for both the Australian and New Zealand tourism industries.

"Air New Zealand is the perfect strategic partner for V3 to optimise the potential of the open booking exchange technology.

"Leading the market with the unique exchange model in Australia, V3 has already seen many of the tourism industry's key suppliers, distributors and government organisations using the open booking exchange technology and now, our partnership with Air New Zealand will extend this successful model into the New Zealand market."

Mr Thompson said former Air New Zealand General Manager Chris Hunter had been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the new business that would offer a similar tourism exchange service in New Zealand.

Mr Hunter has long been involved in the tourism and travel business, holding a number of senior positions, most recently as General Manager Strategy and Planning for Flight Centre New Zealand. During his 21 years at Air New Zealand he held a range of positions including General Manager Global Direct Sales.

Mr Hunter said he was excited by the opportunity to positively contribute to the ongoing growth and success of the New Zealand tourism industry, and expects to make further announcements to the industry in the first half of next year as the new exchange takes shape.

 

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