Technology 6-9-2006

TRAMS Traveling University

By: J.L. Erickson

With its acquisition earlier this year by Sabre Travel Network, Los Angeles-based TRAMS is bracing for a year of nearly double-digit growth amid expansive agency adoption of its mid- and back-office technology solutions.

TRAMS’ annual conference, recently held in Las Vegas this year renamed Technology & Marketing University (TMU) from Technology University (Tech U) set an attendance record of 758 agency owners and managers, 20 percent more than last year, according to organizers.

“We changed the conference name to emphasize the focus of the show,” said Lee Rosen, founder and president of TRAMS. “While technology enhancements and capabilities can be exciting, the real power comes from knowing how to manage and leverage your data and integrating some very exciting marketing programs.”

Rosen said TRAMS Marketing Advantage program will be a key focus this year.

“It’s the next step in the evolution,” he said. “Quite frankly, agencies need to learn how to market. If they don’t, they’ll lose their share of the business. They need to have the right content, distribution and promotion.”

Rosen said the TMA program will offer turn-key e-mail marketing that produces agency-branded promotional campaigns using preferred supplier promotions and an agency’s database to pinpoint and segment targeted marketing.

The program formally rolled out earlier this year costs $21 a month, but the fee is waived if an agency sends 2,000 or more e-mails a month under the program.

TRAMS’ products, including ClientBase Plus with Live Connect, Marketing Advantage and Back Office, are used at over 11,000 agency locations. But Rosen said growth is still picking up, and he anticipates 8 percent annual growth for the company this year, fueled by expected growth of 25 percent to 30 percent in the company’s ClientBase Plus software segment that includes its Live Connect technology.

Live Connect participants already include Disney, MARK Travel Corp. and Carnival, and it continues to be rapidly adopted across the industry, with recent announcements of its integration with Classic Vacations, TravTech’s cruise booking engine CruiseBase II and Princess and Cunard’s online reservation system.

The technology enables nearly 40,000 agents to book Web-based inventory from tour operators, airlines, consolidators, cruise lines and insurance suppliers and automatically integrate it with passenger name records in Sabre, Galileo, Amadeus, Worldspan, G2 SwitchWorks and other systems. The client data then can be imported into ClientBase Plus software and used for accounting, to run reports and for marketing purposes, reducing the time agents spend manually inputting information and laying the foundation for more automated data sharing in the future.

The integration with the CruiseBase II content database means agencies that have their own Web site can install the Consumer Booking Engine (CBE) application on their site, allowing online visitors to search for cruises and book them online, with information from the booking engine easily importable into TRAMS’ CRM system.

Using the Live Connect and ResCard features, ClientBase Plus seamlessly passes the client information to the Cruisebase reservation session and upon completion imports the reservation details back into a ResCard for invoicing, printing itineraries and managing other administrative tasks.

“CruiseBase II provides travel agents with the latest technology to book cruises easily and rapidly and integrates all client and vendor data into the client’s own TRAMS ClientBase Plus system,” said Gian Dilawari, president of TravTech.

Ensemble Travel Group members that are live with the TravTech cruise-booking engine already have access to the new multi-layer cruise and destination content platform.

Ensemble Travel Group officials anticipate a mid-May rollout of the cruise and destination content to all U.S. members with Ensemble Client Sites. And Ensemble said members with the TravTech cruise booking engine also will soon have access to the Live Connect functionality.

“This new cruise and destination content platform is part of our continuing effort to ensure that our members have the best content, services and technology available today at the lowest possible cost,” said Jack E. Mannix, CTC, president and CEO of Ensemble Travel Group. “The enhancement supports consumers’ current reported habits to mostly shop versus book online.”


VAX Upgrades
VAX VacationAccess has added Funjet Vacations booking features including shop by leg, special requests, airline seat preferences, reissuing e-docs and air and car packages. In addition, Trisept Solutions the company that created and powers VAX VacationAccess also recently launched an air-only booking engine powered by G2 SwitchWorks that allows agents to shop across multiple airlines without leaving the VAX VacationAccess platform. Agents get guaranteed full-content access to seats from Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

GDS Deals
Sabre Holdings has signed a new seven-year distribution deal with Delta Air Lines and a five-year deal with United Airlines. The deals include all Delta and United published fares and inventory that the airlines sell through any third-party distributor and through its reservation offices and Web site. Meanwhile, Worldspan has been chosen by Daallo Airlines for a five-year hosting agreement and also has signed a multi-year, full-content agreement with Air France offering real-time connectivity to information, schedules and availability, including publicly available fares and Web fares.

ASTA’s newest Technology and Marketing Survey Report found 100 percent of agencies surveyed have Internet access at their offices and owners and managers report they spend an average of 17.4 hours on the Internet each week, with frontline agents spending an estimated 16.4 hours a week.
More than three out of four agents said they also use the Web to compare Web-only fares to the prices found in their GDSs. Nearly 83 percent of ASTA agencies reported they have booked directly on suppliers’ sites without using their GDS or calling the supplier.
On average, ASTA agencies book 20.7 percent of total bookings through Web sites, and tour packages continue to be the top product booked online, followed by airline tickets and hotel reservations.
To purchase the full report, go to