nuTravel Web solution targets smaller agencies that think big
By Dan Luzadder
nuTravel, a New York technology provider that primarily serves large corporate travel agencies, has come up with a “light” version of its tech solutions that it plans to launch next month for small and midsize agencies on tight budgets.
Carmine Carpanzano, president and CEO of nuTravel, said the move would open up new online selling opportunities for agencies that may have lost corporate or leisure customers to major online travel agencies such as Expedia and Orbitz.
The technology, developed using ITA software, enables travel consultants to direct clients to the site for self-booking of routine or point-to-point trips, giving travel agents time to handle the more complex itineraries that require special expertise and to service more calls, Carpanzano said.
“The way we look at this, for the small to midsize agency this levels the playing field with the larger consumer sites,” Carpanzano said. “It will allow them to compete in that arena, which up to now they haven’t been able to do very well. They can have their traditional business and also have a significant online presence around the clock, 365 days a year.”
nuTravel is marketing the service through a number of outlets, including notices that will go out to members of ASTA, Carpanzano said. The company will provide agencies who sign up with a Web site that is keyed directly to their individual business. Basic service will start at under $100 a month. The launch is planned for March 3.
“We will develop a Web site for them, branded to their agency, with their colors and their logos, and it will have a very consumer-oriented approach,” Carpanzano said. “It will include a booking engine where their customers can shop and book in real time themselves.
“As we all know, more and more business and leisure travel is going online,” he added. “This can help bring customers back to the agencies they know and trust, and it can help smaller and midsize agencies grow their businesses.”
Although the service can address the needs of unmanaged corporate travelers, it also has applications for leisure travelers who have moved away from traditional agencies for the convenience and potentially lower costs of self-booking.
“We see the service attracting vacationers and even leisure travelers who are just going to visit their families but who still want to keep their connection to their friendly neighborhood travel agency, which they have known and trusted for years,” Carpanzano said. “We are offering essentially a turnkey reservation system for companies that want to grow and maximize profits. It adds an electronic travel agent to their traditional services.”
Carpanzano said the offering brings the same type of robust technology “used by some of the largest travel management companies in the world” and customizes it to create a service for agencies that have $10 million or less per year in sales.
He said nuTravel would build the Web site without up-front charges or long-term contracts. Beyond the basic service, a premium service is being sold for under $300 a month; both require a $5 fee per transaction, he said. The booking engine will search GDSs and other sources to find low air fares and car rentals and will offer rich content on hotel options.
“Our corporate business is going really well,” Carpanzano said. “But we see the small agency market as very much underserved online, and we think we have a solution here that can really help this market succeed.”
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