Travelsavers rolls out corporate and leisure technology

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Travelsavers agency consortium, at its 35th anniversary convention, rolled out technology designed to help members use the Internet more effectively in both the leisure and corporate arenas.

The group launched SiteMaster and SiteMasterPro, solutions for building an agency Web site, powered by Passport Online. The Pro version includes plug-ins for links to booking engines selected by member agencies plus booking engines developed or provided by Travelsavers. Pro already has a link to Globus.

The next link, set for first-quarter 2006, will be to Travelsavers proprietary CruiseXpress consumer booking engine, said Nicole Mazza, Travelsavers senior vice president of marketing.

CruiseXpress, designed to be linked to members Web sites or to generate sales for member agencies when consumers go to the Travelsavers site directly, is operational in Canada now, with some tour charter inventory in the mix, as well, and will be available in the U.S. in October. (CruiseXpressPro, already available, is the travel agent version of the program.)

Travelsavers also is redesigning its extranet for greater ease of use by members and easier maintenance by the groups IT staff, said Jim Mazza, Travelsavers COO.

On the corporate-travel side, Travelsavers introduced CorpXpressLite, which is, as the name suggests, a lighter version of the groups branded CorpXpress booking and travel policy compliance program powered by TRXs ResX.

The new product, also based on ResX, is for agency clients that do not have a corporate travel policy or buy less than $1 million a year in air.

Travelsavers manages CorpXpressLite for members, said Betty Tilton, vice president of corporate sales and marketing.

In other news, Travelsavers announced that effective in the fourth quarter of this year, U.S. and Canadian agency members will be able to offer clients the Visa TravelMoney card and sell a range of foreign currencies through a partnership with Travelex. The trade group will follow that rollout with a consumer-direct promotion in the first quarter of 2006.

Karen Hyun, director of prepaid products for Visa, described the money card as a debit card on steroids. Agents will load value onto the cards for clients, who then can reload their cards four times.

Hyun told delegates that multiple cards can share the same funds, and that if one card is lost or stolen, it can be blocked while the other continues to function.

Cards include lost-luggage insurance, emergency travel assistance services and zero liability when a card is used by an unauthorized person.

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Rick Mazza, Travelsavers president and CEO, said Hurricane Katrina affected about 1% to 1.5% of the groups members (which translates to about 28 to 42 locations).

He said Travelsavers had found most, though not all, affected members. The group offered free use of its toll-free booking operation, but that usage has been next to nil.

Anne Marie Moebes, chief marketing officer, said Travelsavers is poised to help get members back in business quickly, offering as many free services as possible. She said Travelsavers will use its technology for home-based members if some agents find it possible to work in their homes sooner than they can be in their offices. It aims to make SiteMaster and Cruise Xpress available quickly, as well.

Travelsavers also hopes to help with restoring damaged offices or building new offices, depending on member needs and what is practical.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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