Tour operator Thomas Cook has successfully moved MyTravel, which it merged with in June, onto its core reservations platform, its chief information officer has told CIO.

Thomas Cook CIO Carl Dawson said completing this key IT project now opens the way to the enlarged group moving onto a brand new reservations system, Blue Sky iTour, over the next three years.

Thomas Cook is spending £67m on the Blue Sky iTour platform, which will be rolled out by IBM across the group’s branches worldwide before 2011. This should enable all of Thomas Cook’s high street outlets and businesses to access real time price information online for complex holiday packages, making the need for extensive, time-consuming enquiries to generate a final quote for customers a thing of the past.

Dawson said transferring MyTravel onto the current Thomas Cook reservations system was completed in October, allowing the group to ditch the Anite ATOP reservations system, which MyTravel had been using, in favour of proprietary Thomas Cook Tour Operator System software.

The group is now embarked on implementing its Globe Project, which it first outlined in 2006, to replace a raft of legacy systems with a Blue Sky Oracle-based iTour system. The new Thomas Cook platform has the ability to communicate in real time with the myriad reservation systems used in the travel market, including those of partners with Thomas Cook.

Since the June merger Thomas Cook has also overhauled its financial, payroll and HR systems, transferring MyTravel from its Oracle systems onto the SAP systems used by Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook expects to switch on the Blue Sky platform in November this year for top-end specialist holidays. Next year the system will be rolled out to cover all holidays in mainland Europe. By 2010, the platform should be processing all of the group’s standard package holidays, including most of their UK business.

“We’re starting with the specialist UK holidays as they’re a smaller but significant part of our business, so they’re a good test. They’re also very complex bookings,” Dawson said.

“Previously our travel agents had to take the bookings then look up multiple hotels and transfer arrangements, but now they will have real time prices and availability across our partners and can make the full reservation while the customer is there, instead of having to phone back the customer with the final price and arrangements.”

Thomas Cook is targeting savings arising from its integration of MyTravel of about £150m this year, with the consolidation of IT systems contributing towards this.

However, the firm already outsources much of its IT. It has a multimillion pound contract with Atos Origin to provide the tour operator's mainframe services for five years, and recently a 10-year a business process outsourcing deal with Accenture, under which the IT services firm provides management services for back office systems at Thomas Cook, including its SAP-based enterprise resource planning software.