Technology that allows airline companies to offer a suite of ground transportation options to customers has made CarTrawler a world leader, while a focus on innovation helps it to constantly improve its product offering.

CarTrawler is a real Irish success story. The world’s leading B2B travel technology platform began life in 2005 as a car hire company but, according to Chief Technology Officer Bobby Healy, the company quickly saw the potential of online offerings: “Our background was in airline technologies and we applied that learning to the car hire industry, and very quickly became the leader in the world.”

CarTrawler technology connects

CarTrawler’s technology links customers booking flights online with a range of ground transportation options, from bus transfer to car hire or taxi hailing services, creating a one-stop-shop for quick and easy journey planning. The benefit for the consumer is clear, but there are also significant benefits for airlines in terms of the ancillary revenue derived from offering a full retail experience: “One line of code pulls our widget code in, and that integrates directly with the airline’s system to get all the details on the passenger, on the journeys they’re about to make or, for example, when they’re checking in. That one line of code enables the airline to provide the entire shopping experience for their consumers.”

And it’s all done by CarTrawler: “Ancillary revenue is further down the priority order for our customers’ in-house technology teams, so by making it a simple thing to do, they don’t need to undertake a big IT project themselves. That decoupling of the technology problem from the revenue opportunity is what we do.”

Providing technology (and revenue) solutions for their partners requires a focus on innovation, and Bobby agrees that this is critical for CarTrawler: “The best customer a B2B business can ever have for a new product is their existing customers. So the more products we can invent, the more revenue we’re going to make from the existing customer base.”

A recent example of this is a taxi hailing product that the company developed, which was imediately switched on for existing customers, including Emirates Airlines. Bobby adds, “That was a natural extension of our existing relationship with them. Innovation is our pipeline and we have two ways of looking at that – new customers for existing products, and new products for existing customers. We absolutely have to get the R&D and the innovation right.”

Growth market

CarTrawler works with partners all over the world providing this unique suite of high-quality products, “Our focus has always been Europe and the bulk of our business is in Europe, but Southeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand have been very good markets for us. We power the largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, AirAsia, across eight different markets. Japan has also been very strong for us. Car drivers and car hire penetrations are lower in Asia than in Europe or North America but they’re growing and so too is the use of online engines to book ground transportation.”

The company also has plans to expand into a market they have not previously focused on: “We’ve recently signed some major partnerships, including the second largest partner we’ve ever signed with, in North America, and that is going to get a lot more of our focus over the next two years – we’re building a sizable team in North America to really deliver a lot more from that market.”

As the largest, most successful company in the world at what they do, CarTrawler’s team has a lot to be proud of: “Ryanair, Emirates, Virgin Australia and Hawaiian Airlines – one hundred plus airlines around the world depend on us for a major source of their profit, and that’s a pretty amazing achievement, all from Dundrum in Dublin.”

Bobby’s also very proud of the company’s commitment to diversity: “I’m particularly proud that there are more women working in CarTrawler than men. We’ve been really good at getting that balance right, being a really good opportunity for people living in Ireland to build great careers in one of the most entrepreneurial businesses in the country.”

For the future, CarTrawler’s new management team has a strong growth plan for a business that, even with the scale it has achieved, is still just scratching the surface of what’s possible: “Most people still book those products directly with providers and so our aim is to shift those customers to a proper retail experience where they get better choice, better value, better information on their products and the transaction is easier. We want to be the biggest channel as well as the biggest operator. Currently, the biggest channel is direct to suppliers, and that’s the huge opportunity for our business, to change that mix.”

The Dublin Aviation Summit brings together global decision makers from leading airlines, MROs, aviation financial services and asset managers from across the industry under one roof.

Ireland is home to the world’s leading leasing companies and to a growing number of Irish and International aviation and aerospace companies, which have flourished in Ireland and expanded globally from their Irish base, making it an ideal location to host the event.

In 2017, the event attracted industry leaders from Emirates, Thai Airways, NokAir, Omar Air, Iran Air, Alitalia, Etihad Airways Engineering, CALC, Jeju Air, Kenya Airways, and many others.

Visit the Dublin Aviation Summit in 2018 to network with industry leaders and get a glimpse of the latest innovations from the Irish aviation and aerospace industry.

Enterprise Ireland will host a national Ireland Pavilion at MRO Americas 2018 in the Orange County Convention Centre, Florida from 10th-12th April 2018, and has invited six client companies to exhibit as part of a business development programme.

MRO Americas is the premier event for the commercial air transport maintenance, repair and overhaul industry in the US. MRO Americas offers unparalleled networking opportunities over the three days of the event and is the place to forge new partnerships and cement existing relationships. MRO Americas provides a world-class venue for all involved in the MRO sector to exchange ideas and best practices, share experiences, debate issues and challenges and gather knowledge. The event attracts 15,000 industry professionals and 845 exhibitors annually.

Founded in Dublin in 1984, Inflight Dublin is now the world’s third-largest provider of inflight entertainment content to airlines. The company provides a full range of movies, TV, and music content to airlines around the world, and in recent years has moved into the wireless streaming of entertainment content and other services to passengers’ own devices.

Today, Inflight Dublin has 43 customers in 36 countries, including Ireland, Vietnam, Nigeria, Germany, Kenya, US, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia. The company has 70 staff and is represented in five countries around the world.

At the forefront of a changing aviation business

Innovation has been at the heart of this impressive growth story, according to CEO John White. “The company was founded by two entrepreneurs, Damian Fannin and Jerry Hughes”, he says. “They were involved in music production at the time and were approached by Aer Lingus to provide content for a new audio entertainment system it was installing in its long-haul fleet. Their Aer Lingus contact also had a contact in Iberia, which led to a contract there. And the business grew from that point.”

In the 1990s, video became the new standard for inflight entertainment and the company’s ability to adapt to new technology allowed it to move into that area swiftly. “That’s when it changed its name to Inflight Dublin from Inflight Audio, to reflect the changed nature of the business”, says White.

John White joined in 2009 following a recommendation from Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, for the company to strengthen its management team. “The opportunity came to buy out the company in 2012. I did that with a private equity partner and we exited from that in 2016”, White adds. “Our main service is still content provision. We acquire content on behalf of airlines from Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, European and Arabic cinema. We also acquire TV series from around the world. We compile and edit the content to meet the system specs on the aircraft. We also do safety videos and ads for inflight shopping.”

Pivoting to software development

Three years ago, the company started to develop software to stream content to passengers’ own devices. This represents a major growth area, as it expands the potential market for the company’s services from long-haul jets to aircraft of almost any size.

“Our traditional focus was long-haul aircraft with screens built into seatbacks”, he explains. “With wireless, we can put a small server on a plane with wireless access ports, and stream content to more than 200 passenger devices. There are hundreds and hundreds of airlines with no long-haul aircraft in their fleets and we are enabling them to offer inflight entertainment to their passengers. We have developed new areas like onboard retail. Passengers can order and pay through their own devices. We also have partnerships with organisations such as TripAdvisor and Groupon to distribute deals, and we share revenue from those sales. Another service we offer allows passengers to book ground transportation tickets.”

Enterprise Ireland has played an important role in connecting Inflight Dublin with international partners. “Enterprise Ireland has been supporting us for the past 15 years and has been particularly helpful in overseas markets. They help set up meetings with airlines and other partners. It is very important to have a State body like Enterprise Ireland backing us. Many airlines are still State owned and like to see that backing. Enterprise Ireland also supported us in the development of our software offering on the wireless side of the business.”

Looking ahead, White is targeting continued growth for both sides of the business. “We see the content side growing steadily, but the wireless side has the potential to grow exponentially and we see it equalling, if not surpassing the profit level of the content side of our business within the next few years. The wireless services give us direct access to the passenger spend and that will be strong growth area for us. That’s our focus for the next three to five years.”

With over 200,000 visitors and over 1500 exhibitors from 52 countries, Farnborough Air show is the largest and most important aerospace and aviation event in 2018. It is the premier platform to connect aerospace and aviation professionals across industry subsectors. The event includes over 70,000 square meters of exhibit space, including the grand opening of Hall 1 exhibition centre. 82 of the top 100 aerospace companies exhibited at the 2016 show and over $124 billion of orders and commitments were placed. This year Enterprise Ireland will host an 88sqm pavilion, showcasing the best of Ireland’s aerospace and aviation capabilities.

Visit Farnborough International Air show in 2018 to gain vital industry contacts and knowledge and to capitalise on the most important show in the industry calendar.