Galileo Unveils ‘Business Builders’ Program

GDS says three-pronged plan will boost agency revenue opportunities

By: David Peterkofsky

Galileo International introduced an array of initiatives the company says will offer its agency subscribers moneymaking and money-saving opportunities not all of which relate directly to travel.

The new program, dubbed Galileo Business Builders, offers exclusively negotiated products for Galileo agencies to sell, along with tools that help agencies build loyalty among clients and cost-saving partnerships with vendors such as AT&T and a high-speed Internet service provider.

The company splits the Business Builders program into three components:

" Revenue Builders, consisting of commissionable offerings including some provided by Cendant Corp.-owned suppliers (Cendant also owns Galileo).

Offerings include exclusive access to the inventory of RCI Holiday Network, which rents out 80,000 condominiums, villas and vacation homes in more than 100 countries. Galileo agencies receive pay of 20% on RCI bookings through the new program.

Another Cendant holding, Avis, now pays Galileo agencies $100 each time they enroll a small-business account into Avis’ License to Sell program for small businesses through 2002. Avis typically pays $25 per enrollment. Avis also will pay agencies 10% on each U.S. rental generated from these accounts during their first year in the program.

" Loyalty Builders, which Galileo said will enhance agent-client relations and encourage client loyalty. These include discount and upgrade coupons for Avis and Hertz car rentals, and Get Up and Go certificates for free three-day hotel stays throughout the United States.

" Efficiency Builders, geared toward reducing agencies’ overhead. Galileo’s negotiated rates with vendors include discounts on copiers and fax machines, savings on office supplies and preferred pricing on high-speed Internet services.

The company also now offers rebates to Galileo-agency employees when they buy or sell a home (on a $250,000 home, the agent gets $900 back) through the Real Estate Assistance Program operated by Cendant Mobility, a mortgage and real estate services company.

Galileo has developed an online value calculator, with which agencies can determine the money they can earn and save through the new program. The calculator can be found at businessbuilders.

Web Fares Update

The Business Builders program arrives on the heels of Galileo’s June announcement that it was beta-testing Web fare search technology that lets agents locate Web fares and book them through direct links to the sites where they are located.

Those beta-tests, involving 20 agencies in the United States and Britain, have ended, and Galileo executives learned that Web fares apparently aren’t as high a priority to their subscribers as had originally been assumed.

“For most of the beta period, there were zero online bookings generated, because these fares come with significant restrictions,” said Todd Dubner, Galileo’s vice president of product innovation, adding that the technology would be rolled out to all Galileo agencies in October. “The customers want to be aware of what’s out there but don’t necessarily want to purchase it.”

Dubner said Galileo’s Web fare search tools, provided by developers AgentWare and TRX, are something agents want even if they don’t necessarily book many of the fares, given their restrictions and a closing gap between Web and published fares.

“It’s important to provide that information, but the agencies, acting in the best interest of their customers, have not had to book those transactions,” he said.

Dubner added that Galileo still is moving forward with plans to make several of its airline customers’ Web fares available for booking directly in the GDS in the coming months.

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