LAS VEGAS -- Signature Travel Network is making its app, Pocket Travel Consultant, available to members at a lower price to make it more accessible, the travel agency consortium said during its annual sales meeting at the Mandalay Bay Resort.

Agents use Pocket Travel Consultant as a customer-service tool. Clients who download it can access their itineraries and destination information. They also have access to their agents via a messaging tool within the app.

Karen Yeates, executive vice president of information technologies, said the app -- which uses Axus Travel App's infrastructure and technology -- is being used by more than 700 agents. Her goal is to more than double the number of users to 1,500 over the next year.

Yeates said Signature is introducing a tiered pricing system where agencies will pay a flat yearly rate for the service based on size. The cost per agent could be as low as $20, with Signature subsidizing the cost. The typical price for a single agent to use the Axus Travel App is over $240 annually.

"I hope this change enables 100% of our customers to engage," she said.

Further pricing details are expected to be released within the next several weeks, Yeates said.

Meanwhile, Signature is making improvements to the app by integrating more content, like shore excursions, and enabling booking tools in Pocket Travel Consultant.

Also in the technology corner, Signature is working to enhance Client Reach, its system that sets up a series of messages to send to agents' clients before, during and after their trips.

Seventy-four percent of Signature's agents use the system, Yeates said, and the network wants to make Client Reach even more customizable. For instance, Client Reach users will be given the ability to customize messages to their cruise clients at the supplier level.

Yeates also said Signature is working to give agents the ability to text their clients a quote. While the network has stayed out of the texting game up to this point -- and Yeates said Signature will never use text messaging for marketing purposes -- texting quotes will enable agents to give their clients the information they want in via their preferred channel.

Also during the sales meeting, executive vice president Ignacio Maza announced updates to the network's hotels and resorts program. In 2017, it will feature 978 properties in 460 destinations. There are 77 new properties, an 8% increase.

Signature members will book over 3.5 million room nights via GDSs in 2016, Maza said.

In addition to the new properties, free WiFi will now be included as a Signature benefit for all hotel bookings. Also, Maza said agents will have access to an advanced hotel search.


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