PHILADELPHIA -- Rosenbluth International officially begins the expansion of its leisure travel program this month, as it will roll out its Virtual Passport to 25,000 AT&T employees, as part of a cross-sell program.

Rosenbluth earlier this year signed with Passport Online, a software firm based in Portland, Ore., to customize its on-line vacation travel database program for use with Rosenbluth corporate clients. The Virtual Passport system allows users to book air, car, hotel, cruise and tour product, which is updated daily and downloaded with the click of a mouse. Travelers can book through a travel agent or through Rosenbluth's Web site.

Rosenbluth thus becomes the latest corporate travel agency to try to raise commission revenue and diversify by expanding its leisure travel program.

Susan Stenbrink, director of marketing for Rosenbluth, said, "We're excited to offer this product initially to partners and corporate clients, and later release it to the general traveling consumer. As a CD-ROM offering, Virtual Passport provides a more high-touch appeal to vacation travelers than the standard on-line approach through the Internet. It also combines the best of both technologies by providing full multimedia capabilities through the CD-ROM and real-time updates through the Internet."

Rosenbluth, a $3 billion corporate agency based in Philadelphia, announced in August plans to expand its leisure travel business to $1 billion by the year 2000. Rosenbluth currently sells leisure travel through its Web site, Travelution, at www.rosenbluth.com, as well as through Free Spirit Vacations and its low-fare telephone service, A Ticket2Fly.

Rival organizations like Woodside Travel Trust, VTS Travel and Direct Travel have announced plans to expand their leisure sales as a way to counter the 1995 commission caps and now the September commission cuts on travel agent commissions. Suppliers have been supportive of these efforts as large corporate agencies have the ability to move huge amounts of market share using preferred vendor agreements. Cruise lines, airlines and other suppliers have stated they remain willing to use override commissions as a tool to move market share, but not to freely award unproductive agencies that belong to consortia or travel cooperatives.

Rosenbluth officials said they plans to distribute 200,000 copies of the CD-ROM to the firm's corporate partners as well as to employees of its corporate clients.

Rosenbluth is the first large corporate agency to sign with Passport Online. The Cruiselink Plus and GEM travel agency consortia have signed separate agreements with Passport Online to boost their respective leisure traffic in an on-line environment.

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