Villa specialist Pathway has been forging tech partnerships to enable agents to sell its products. Managing director James Marchant updates Matthew Parsons on the latest integrations.
Although now entering its fourth year, Pathway GDS finds itself one of the latest “start-ups” to be housed in the Traveltech Lab – a collaboration between London & Partners and The Trampery that aims to nurture up-and-coming travel technology companies.
James Marchant, managing director of Pathway, a villa specialist, says the move is mutually beneficial: “I’d heard about it, then applied, and had a couple of interviews. The idea is for there not to be too many people stepping on each other’s toes; companies must not be too similar. Certainly having more London locations is a potential angle we’re interested in.
“From a London & Partners’ perspective, we’re also promoting London as a place to invest to foreign businesses."
As well as being housed in the lab, next to the Mayor of London’s riverside office, which Marchant says is “expanding London’s sphere of influence across the UK”, other locations include India and Romania for development work, while in the US Eric Mason, formerly at Wyndham, has a non-executive role. In total there are six office locations.
So what has happened over the past few years? Having spent time establishing relationships with villa providers, Pathway has been forging ahead with its own integrations into some of the biggest players in travel; Pathway now “feeds in” Ocean Beds stock into Barrhead, via Traveltek, says Marchant.
As a B2B platform Pathway works extensively with Traveltek, Dolphin Dynamics and Intuitive.
Meanwhile, it is recent signings with Booking.com and HomeAway that looks set to boost Pathway’s credentials even further. “We have agreements in place with both for Pathway to connect in and become an accredited supplier partner. Connection work is scheduled for completion by end of this quarter,” Marchant reveals. “I flew to Booking.com’s Amsterdam HQ. They say ‘do it our way, or not at all’ so they’re validating us. They now know if they offer one of our properties, it will work. They might also say to a potential supplier, ‘go in via Pathway’. Or tell them to look at other points of aggregation.”
With consolidation in the accommodation sector (such as Marriott International acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts last November) as well as the OTA sector (such as Expedia’s Acquisition of Orbitz and Travelocity), where does the villa sector stand?
“I know [Booking.com owner] Priceline Group is looking more into rentals,” Marchant says, “which is good for us, we want more agencies to have an understanding of the market, and to put resources into it. The market’s plenty big enough.”
He adds there is also currently a big focus on “hybrid” resort units – bookable self-catering apartments that sit within resorts. “There are competitive prices, they’re good for families as customers have access to the creche and entertainment.
We work with Endless Vacation Rentals, which has 200,000 resort units available to book. It has a global footprint.” Any agent is able to access Pathway’s thousands of health and safety approved villas, via an API which now comes with a one-off integration fee, or through the likes of Traveltek, Dolphin Dynamics and Intuitive.
“The message we gave at World Travel Market London last year was about driving the fact we have connectivity in place, with those channels, as well as leveraging firms like Traveltek. And the technology layer is invisible to consumers.”
The technology may be invisible to consumers, but Marchant is clearly putting Pathway in front of the trade as he continues to educate agents about the benefits of switching on to villas.