WiredFlyer’s Turnkey Web Package Takes Off

Tech company is an offshoot of a Texas agency; content includes destination, hotel descriptions

By: David Peterkofsky

A travel agency in Texas has spawned a spin-off business that is providing Web site content to more than 60 other leisure agencies.

In July 2001, Austin-based Make Your Bet Vacations unofficially launched Wired Flyer, a company that offers retailers generic destination content, property photo tours and travel specials on Web pages that it customizes with the agency’s identity and logo. Word of mouth and a story in Travel Weekly fueled the growth of WiredFlyer’s agency “network” to more than 60 agencies before its official launch last month.

WiredFlyer’s package, which costs $200 per month, includes up to 10,000 pages of content; photo tours of destinations and properties; e-mail price request capabilities for clients; an array of travel specials, updated weekly; and password-protected access to traffic reports for the site.

In most cases, the company says, it can create a fully functional Web site, customized with an agency’s logo and contact information, within 24 hours.

The inspiration for WiredFlyer, according to president and CEO Rick Barton, was his agency’s own site, which now attracts nearly one quarter of Make Your Bet’s gross revenue per year. And his agency’s top-producer status with the companies of Mark Travel Corp., including Southwest Airlines Vacations, Funjet Vacations and Adventure Tours, led to those brands’ specials being featured on WiredFlyer pages.

Barton (not to be confused with Expedia president and CEO Richard Barton) hopes to expand his supplier base with more varied options, to draw in agencies from areas in the United States where Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean aren’t top sellers. In all, the company hopes to attract as many as 200 retailers to its network by year’s end.

Barton added that the WiredFlyer option makes sense for agencies of any size. The common denominator among WiredFlyer members, he said, isn’t sales volume as much as it is “people who are selling vacation packages.”

Kathy Monte, Wired Flyer’s vice president, said the product has benefits not only for agencies in the network but for participating suppliers as well. She pointed to a recent situation in which Funjet saw a group of 50 cancel a Cozumel trip on short notice, only to have those charter seats filled within three days through an e-mail blast to member agencies and a notice of the last-minute special posted on their Web sites.

Barton differentiates his company from competitors, including Online Agency, also based in Austin, by virtue of the fact that he knows firsthand what it’s like to run an agency.

“We do what our peers do every day we sell vacation packages and know what it takes to do that,” he said. “The feedback our tech team gets is from day-to-day operations and day-to-day reality.”

Call 877-205-8988.

Web site: www.wiredflyer.com.

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