15 September 1995

Travel Bridges the gap for small QLD group - Financial Review

There aren’t many small businesses in the information technology sector whose aim is to grow slowly. But Braintree Communications...sees advantages in staying small.

The business was started in 1988 on the back of technology developed for the banking sector. Both directors, Peter Mason, 35, and Colin Stevenson, 46, were financial consultants in communications at the ANZ Bank.

Two years after Mason left to establish Braintree, he was joined by Stevenson. They developed a BTX card capable of talking a number different protocols, which is used by State Bank NSW on Olivetti hardware.

But their big breakthrough, the one all small businesses hope for, came when they realised they could adapt the card for travel groups, such as the major airlines and booking agencies.

For the technically adept, the method uses Braintree’s BTX cards and related hardware on the X.25 network and IP gateway to allow users multi-site communication.

“The same card that was used for transferring money is now used for transferring reservations in the travel industry,” said Mason.

An additional advantage to Braintree’s system is that it can be used on the old ALC reservations network as well as the newer X.25 system. It also offers simultaneous access to the Internet without having to pay for a separate line.

Says Mason: “Agents can talk to their hosts with their old protocols and at the same time have this superhighway access between their branches and their head office.

“What we’ve done is said “Hey, if you want to use Windows 95 or OS2 Warp, we don’t mind. It will all work over our gateway.

“They can have their host up and superhighway access on their screen at the same time. And over in the corner sits a little box of ours with our electronics and software.”

Mason also claims security with this system has been increased, because “an airline ticket is just like cash.

“With the reservations, I can be making my booking to the host, say Qantas, along with 20 other people in the room. And some of us could be sending out email to the Cairns branch or the Perth branch or picking up new documents for publicity from the head office. So it’s like a wide area network,” Mason said.

“But bringing travel agencies and airlines into present day technology has no been an easy task.”

Though the company has four full-time staff in Brisbane and the other director based in Hong Kong to organise a move into the Asia-Pacific region, the need for a greater profile became obvious.

The company approached the Queensland Small Business Corporation, which recognised its potential and subsidised 50% of the cost of drawing up a business plan incorporating a marketing strategy.

“Nobody’s going to come up to us,” said Mason. “we’re across this ravine – they’re in the airline world, we’re in the technology world. Unless it’s put before them they won’t see the product.”

Why his preference to remain a small business? “Being a small company with a big reputation is much better than the other way around.”


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