Travelport, which last October introduced the first mobile app to enable agents to use a GDS on their iPads, has now significantly upgraded the product, bringing complete green-screen functionality to mobile devices.
Travelport Mobile Agent 2.0 is already downloadable from Apple’s App Store and will be available for Androids on Nov. 30, bringing the cryptic codes of the GDS to touch-screen mobile devices.
At the moment, it is available only for Galileo and only for travel sellers in Europe or Asia.
Travelport will launch it for U.S. users of Apollo at the end of the year and for Worldspan in the second quarter of 2013, said Christopher Zando, Travelport’s vice president of global partnerships and alliances.
Zando said the app enables agents “to work from anywhere,” giving them access to all GDS content and all bookings.
While Travelport was first to market with a comprehensive mobile GDS app, Amadeus and Sabre are hot on its heels.
Amadeus has said it is currently testing and developing both cryptic and graphical user interface functionality on the iPad, and Sabre has reported it is developing a tablet-based version of Sabre Red Workspace that will be available for testing in the first quarter 2013.
As for Travelport’s own GDSs, Zando said that Mobile Agent 2.0 goes beyond existing Web-based versions of Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan.
“You could use the Web-based version [of Galileo, Apollo or Worldspan] on the iPad, but it wouldn’t work anywhere nearly as well as this will,” he said of the app.
Agents who viewed a video about the new app that Travelport posted on YouTube praised the concept.
“I’m always on the road, and using remote access to a dedicated computer is a pain, so I’m pretty excited by the prospect of this app,” said Ryan McGredy, president of Moraga Travel.
Ann Waters, president of Travel Leaders in Fort Wayne, Ind., said: “It is great to be so close to a mobile version of Apollo rather than having to log in to our desktop from an iPad using GoToMyPC or some similar utility in order to remotely work on Apollo.”
Waters said leisure agents could use it when meeting clients outside the office or at trade shows. Meetings and group planners could use it to help attendees deal with air at meetings and conventions or while on group tours.
Carolyn Waffle, a home-based agent, said, “The only reason I’ve not purchased an iPad is because my GDS isn’t compatible. I would absolutely love this.”
Zando said the new version of the app works better than accessing a GDS from an iPad or other mobile device via a virtual private network because on a website users are limited by the fact that they’re using a system designed for a computer, not a mobile device, and that makes navigation awkward.
Travelport Mobile Agent 2.0 supports masks by adding fields in the terminal window, enabling agents to fill in relevant data and submit them to the GDS host.
Thus, agents using Travelport Mobile Agent can now perform all GDS operations, including complex operations that were not possible on previous versions of the app.
Travelport has adapted to the mobile touch-screen environment by introducing linked commands, meaning that travel agents can touch on-screen commands and execute them without typing.
Travelport created the app in collaboration with a Portuguese developer associated with a travel agency. The developer came up with the idea while attending a wedding and trying to deal with a problem with the itinerary of a VIP client.
The developer “was trying to use an iPhone to get to the green screen of Focalpoint, and there is a Web-based version, but it is kind of awful,” Zando recalled. “So he essentially locked himself in the basement and said he would build a cool mobile app that would allow agents to use Focalpoint in Galileo in Europe in a way that would be intuitive on a mobile device.”
Zando said his team worked with the developer through the Travelport Developer Network, a program designed to tap into the creativity of third-party developers. The initial result was a white-label version called Mobile Travel Agent.
Probably the most anticipated features for heavy users of Travelport Mobile Agent are improved keyboard support and the “keyboard always open” option, which enables the user to type commands continuously without having to touch the on-screen command field.
Other improvements enable agents to print or email multiple pages with a single touch, change orientation and take advantage of more Quick Key shortcuts.
Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.