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As the Internet continues to become entrenched as an
increasingly key distribution channel for agents, a growing number
of companies are revamping their Web sites in an effort to better
cater to agents’ need for comprehensive high-quality content, quick
performance and ease of use.
Avanti Destinations unveiled a newly revamped site with more
than 2,000 hotels, 25 Recommended Vacation Packages (RVPs), car
rentals, add-on options (such as transfers) and tour operator
airfare on 20 airlines for agents’ independent clients headed to
Europe or Latin America.
The site includes a new function that allows agents to check
hotel bargains and sort among 200 hotels by price, star rating and
availability. It also offers quick links to details on specialty
tours and itineraries; hotel location maps for major cities;
downloadable brochures for Europe and Latin America; an airfare
display sortable by price or carrier; and easier access to existing
Avanti bookings, payments and printable itineraries.
“We tested the new-and-improved site with travel agents,” said
Harry Dalgaard, president of Avanti Destinations and executive vice
president of air, car and hotels for the Rail Europe Group. “They
gave us high marks ... Now, travel agents can check out virtually
our entire lineup of F.I.T. products in Europe and Latin America
24/7, instead of waiting to speak with one of our reservation
Meanwhile, a newly revamped site from Globus gives agents the
ability to navigate itineraries, subscribe to e-newsletters,
request brochures and more easily make reservations by offering an
improved printing feature that formats maps, itineraries and
accommodation information into one document.
Destination Europe Resources also has revamped its booking site
for consolidated net air, European car rentals and hotels and has
streamlined the booking.
New features include an airfare display with the lowest price
carrier and class accessible for booking with half as many clicks
compared with the previous site. The site also makes it easier to
apply payments, add agent fees and finalize bookings by locating
all of those functions on one page.
Hotels can now be sorted by star rating, availability or price
and include photos and detailed descriptions, while transfers and
options are now displayed along with hotels, making it easy to add
Furthermore, Sceptre Tours also revamped its Web site in an
effort to ease use and boost sales and referrals to Emerald Partner
The site now features a booking signpost on the left side as
well as a navigation bar on the top to help users more efficiently
browse inventory. A section has also been added for group
“We felt that it was important to enhance the shopping
experience on our consumer site so that we can increase the number
of sales we refer to our valued Emerald Partners,” said Chris
Accomando, president of Sceptre Tours.
Travel Sites Improve
Travel industry Internet sites have made significant
improvements in developing strong interactivity, design, content
and copywriting, according to the most recent benchmark evaluation
of dozens of industry sites by the Web Marketing Association.
The association evaluates thousands of sites and indexes them in
its “Internet Standards Assessment Report” study based on seven
categories: design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity,
copywriting and ease of use.
Within the travel industry, airline Web sites have a slightly
higher average score than other travel-related Web sites, earning a
7.1 out of a possible 10 points. Other travel-related categories,
hotel and lodging, regional and travel, all scored an average of
7.0 for the three-year time period. “[Travel] Web sites integrate
effective copy with strong images to create a lifestyle experience
for the user, allowing them to make better choices for themselves
prior to meeting with a travel agent,” said William Rice, president
of the association.
A copy of the full report is available at www.webaward.org/
The association is currently taking nominations for its 2006
WebAwards, which will name the best Web site in 96 industry
categories. Travel organizations wishing to have their site
evaluated against the association’s index and be considered for a
WebAward can go to www.webaward.org and enter before May 31.