BOSTON — Offering technology that keeps travel agents connected with their clients is high on the priority list for Signature Travel Network, as detailed by Karen Yeates, executive vice president of information technologies, during the 2015 Owners’ Meeting here last week.

Yeates discussed existing technology available to Signature members — like “agent favorite” Cruise Track, software that updates agents with all changes for a particular cruise, and subsequently allows them to update their clients — as well as technology to come.

For instance, Yeates discussed Client Reach, which sends custom emails on behalf of a travel agent. This includes birthday messages, anniversary messages and passport update reminders, among others. Client Reach is “not going away,” Yeates said. “Just growing, getting better, being enhanced; this is Signature’s way of helping you to engage with your clients in better ways all the time.”

One of the new initiatives on the radar for the coming months is the ability to send emails to prospective clients who have not yet booked travel, Yeates said. In the future, when an agent enters a Res Card in ClientBase at the time of a potential customer’s inquiry, an email message will be generated to that potential client urging them to book. It will end with a call-to-action to book with their agent.

Enhancements have been made to the Axus Travel App, including the integration of Travel42 and hotel content. Signature will continue working with Axus on enhancements, and the itinerary management app is being rebranded and called the Pocket Travel Consultant because “this app really is an agent in their pocket,” Yeates said. It is available in the Apple App Store now.

Signature’s app formerly known as Pocket Travel Consultant — which includes Travel42 guides — will be rebranded as Pocket Travel Guides. Signature considered getting rid of this app, but decided to keep it around because about 17,000 clients are using it.

Smartphones and tablets will be a big part of the future of technology in travel, Yeates said. Increased screen size on mobile phones will make more people likely to book travel via their phones, she said, citing a statistic that mobile devices were used to purchase travel 23% of the time in 2012.

“It skyrocketed to 38% in 2014,” she said. “That’s a big jump in just two years.”

Smartphone usage is on the rise with older consumers, she said, as 76% of people between ages 55-64 have a smartphone, and 58% of those older than 65 are carrying smartphones. Additionally, six of 10 travelers have tablets now, up 44% from 2013.

After the general session, Signature CEO Alex Sharpe said the network’s goal is to help members reach their clients the way those clients want to be reached — whether that be by mobile phone, app, email, or another way entirely.

Ignacio Maza, Signature’s executive vice president, said, “Ultimately, I think it’s all about giving the travel consultant on the front line the tools to be more efficient and more effective, and better to use their time in the best manner possible so that we can free them up to spend more time selling — which is, obviously, their core competency and what they do best. Let us help them behind the curtain to equip them with the tools, the resources, the content, the information that they need to be more efficient.”


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