Sabre Acquires TRAMS, Strikes Deal With Priceline

*More Ahead for Suntrips
*ASTA's Prague Expo
*And more

Sabre Travel Network announced the acquisition of Los Angeles-based TRAMS, a leading mid- and back-office solutions provider. According to the announcement, the acquisition “enables Sabre to directly serve the end-to-end needs from front- to mid- to back-office, along with unique marketing capabilities for a broad spectrum of travel agencies.”
TRAMS’ products, including ClientBase Plus with Live Connect, Marketing Advantage and Back Office, are used at over 11,000 agency locations, and ASTA reports that more than 80 percent of its members use the back-office solution, the companies said.

“Up front, there will be absolutely no change to the customer whatsoever,” said Lee Rosen, founder and president of TRAMS, in an exclusive interview with TravelAge West. “Over time ... there may be some integration opportunities ... because they add a lot of value to each of the pieces.”

Under terms of the acquisition Rosen will still retain his title and the TRAMS’ offices will remain in Los Angeles. Also, TRAMS’ current supplier partnerships will remain unchanged.

Trams’ Live Connect solution enables agencies to book Web-based inventory, from tour operators, airlines, consolidators, cruise lines and insurance suppliers, and integrate them with passenger name records in Sabre, Galileo, Amadeus, Worldspan, G2 SwitchWorks and other systems. The client data then can be used for accounting, to run reports and for marketing purposes.

In other news last week, Sabre announced it signed a long-term GDS subscriber agreement with

With the Priceline deal, Sabre now has relationships with three of the four top online agencies in the U.S. In addition, Travelocity’s recently acquired, one of the leading online sites in Europe, has announced plans to begin moving its bookings to the Sabre GDS.

More Ahead for Suntrips

Two travel agencies sued SunTrips and its parent corporation, seeking restitution of unpaid commissions on behalf of all agencies and to stop the sale of the tour business until agency commissions are secured.

The plaintiff agencies are Community World Travel of Denver and Four Winds Travel of Carmel, Calif. Four Winds owner Daniel Presser is an ARTA board member. Defendants are SunTrips, based in San Jose, Calif., and its owner OneTravel Holdings.

The class action was filed in California Superior Court after OneTravel announced it had agreed to sell SunTrips to Crystal Hospitality Holdings.

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Al Anolik, said millions in commissions are due, and he said the plaintiffs seek to block the sale of SunTrips because the terms of that sale to Crystal, while itemizing various debt obligations, make no mention of the large outstanding debt to the trade.

Anolik said the court has set a March 14 date for a hearing on his request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit OneTravel from transferring any SunTrips assets to another party. The proposed injunction would also require the defendants to “account for and hold in trust amounts received in connection with the sale of SunTrips,” according to court documents.

The plaintiffs alleged in court filings that SunTrips has failed to pay agency commissions for at least the past year despite the continued publication of commission rates on its Web site. The plaintiffs accused SunTrips and its parent of fraud because it misrepresented its intentions; the plaintiffs demanded full restitution plus damages.

Victor Bao, president and CEO of Valorem Group North America, speaking to TAW before the suit was filed, said: “We’re not sure exactly what happened over the past year. But Crystal Hospitality is going to pay 100 percent of the commissions and start paying them immediately.”

Miami-based Valorem a hotel representation, communications and marketing firm of international hospitality clients in the U.S. market created Crystal Hospitality Holdings for the purpose of buying SunTrips.

Bao also said that plans call for SunTrips to be repositioned by changing the mix of hotels offered; adding a few gateways; possibly adding a company office in Florida; and adding more destinations, including possibly Panama.

Overall, however, Bao said that much about the tour operator will remain the same, including the company’s name and employees.

“A lot of time with travel agents is what we’re really looking forward to,” Bao added.

For the past few months, travel agents have been contacting TAW reporting that SunTrips has continued to delay payments on agent commissions and that hotels have refused or canceled SunTrips’ reservations.

‘Two Nation Vacation’ Show in Seattle

Hosted by the Victoria Clipper and Clipper Vacations, the 19th Annual “Two Nation Vacation” Travel Show will be held in Seattle on Thurs., March 9, from 5-7:30 p.m., at the Bell Harbor Conference Center at Pier 66.

Attending travel agents will be introduced to new Clipper Vacations and Clipper Incentives products, as well as information about the highlights of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Over 75 suppliers representing hotels, attractions and transportation carriers in Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver Island, San Juan Islands, Alberta, Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies will be exhibiting.

A pre-show seminar featuring speakers discussing pre/post Alaska cruise packages and other regional tour products will be held from 4-5 p.m. Space is limited to 50 people for the seminar, and RSVPs are required.


ASTA’S Prague Expo On Track

Plans are continuing for the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) first annual International Destination Expo, in partnership with the Czech Republic government and CzechTourism, to be held in Prague March 21-26.

More than 1,000 travel agents will meet to attend seminars, explore the region and become Central European specialists.

Pleasant Training Approved

Pleasant Holidays’ Internet Training Program for Pleasant was recently approved by The Travel Institute to provide up to two Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to Certified Travel Industry Executives (CTIEs), Certified Travel Counselors (CTCs) and Certified Travel Associates (CTAs) who complete the course. Travel professionals who have earned CTIE, CTC and CTA certifications through The Travel Institute are required to earn 10 CEUs annually to maintain their designations.

The accredited Pleasant Holidays program instructs travel agents on Pleasant Holidays exclusive travel agent Web site at, as well as on destination content, downloadable sales tools and other information.

Pleasant Holidays will begin posting training site locations and courses on within a few weeks.

ATTA Education

The Association of Travel Agents of America (ATAA) has announced its 2006 lineup of education events. The lineup includes ATAA-hosted events and ATAA sponsorships at events held by other industry groups:

March 10: Selling Luxury Travel with Bruce Tepper
Location: Hilton at the Phoenix Airport

March 11: Selling Luxury Travel with Bruce Tepper
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.

April 18-20: TRAMS TMU
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Late April through early June: Webinar series with Select industry experts

July 14-16: Annual Nuts & Bolts Conference
Location: Starr Pass Resort, Tucson, Ariz.

Sept. 9: The Travel Institute National Forum
Location: Orlando, Fla.

Sept. 4-9: ATAA Seminar at Sea
Location: Carnival Victory New York to Canada/New England

Dec. 1: ATAA Annual Meeting & Holiday Celebration
Location: Phoenix