OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — Over the next few months, agents who book Apple Vacations will be introduced to a revamped website, and by Dec. 1 they will be able to search and book from their mobile device.
“Eighty percent of our travel agent bookings are made online,” said Tim Mullen, Apple’s co-president. (Tim and his brother, Jeff Mullen, were quietly promoted to co-president earlier this year. Tim was senior vice president and Jeff was executive vice president.)
Mullen discussed website plans during an interview at the company’s annual agent trade show and awards program this week.
The new booking platform, using Apple’s proprietary technology, enables agents to adjust variables such as price, destination and chain during a search. For example, if agents want to change the hotel but keep the dates, they can do so without starting from scratch.
The new platform has an advanced search filter so that agents can search by brand, duration of trip, price range or Apple rating. Also, agents can make payments online.
Similar to the types of enhancements many other wholesalers are making to their booking sites, the upgrades are an attempt to help agents compete with online travel agencies.
But access to live inventory remains elusive.
“The biggest challenge tour operators have today is connecting to live inventory with hotels,” said Mullen. “They’re all on their own systems.”
According to Mullen, all of Apple’s top-producing agents will be able to use the new and improved booking site by the end of October. It will be rolled out to all other agents in the next six to nine months.
The old booking site will continue to run for about a year as agents make the transition to the new site.
Additionally, Apple has partnered with Movitas to create a booking website that agents can access from any mobile device.
Starting Oct. 1, they will be able to see Apple specials and get company updates. And on Dec. 1, they will be able to check availability, book and make payments for their clients through their mobile device.