Traditional Travel Agency Battles Back

Corporate Travel Planners, a travel agency in San Antonio, is fighting back against the airline-company squeeze.

Travel agencies are in a tough spot. Airlines have cut out the standard commissions that once generated as much as half their revenue, causing them to raise or impose service fees. That only makes travel and airline Web sites that don't charge fees, and they also offer hefty discounts, even more attractive to consumers and businesses.

Corporate Travel Planners, a travel agency in San Antonio, is fighting back against the squeeze from commission-cutting airlines and discount-happy Web agents. It's testing software introduced last week by Sabre Holdings Corp. that will help it show its expertise is worth the new service fees it must charge. "Now that we've gone to zero commissions, we need to show the customers that we're tech-savvy," says Theresa Wilson, agency VP.

Sabre's mainframe technology wasn't developed to hunt down fares across many Web sites, so it developed Web Fares, an application that scans Web travel sites for discounts. With access to the application, as well as to Sabre's mainframe system, agents can guarantee customers they'll get the best fares.

Web Fares is priced at about $30 per month and is one of five new offerings for agents. Agents can sign up for branded services that let them send travel alerts to customers' E-mail and mobile devices. A yield-management system, priced according to agency size, will let them monitor progress at meeting performance-based commission contracts they may have with airlines.

The company's also leveraging agencies' buying power to get hotel discounts and hasten commission payments.

News source: InformationWeek - Traditional Travel Agency Battles Back

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