As airlines continue to cut commissions, many small travel agencies are finding themselves caught in the vicious cycle of higher operating costs and declining profits.
Sabre, along with travel distribution company Nexion, is seeking to offer these agents a solution that will help them reduce operating expenses and increase margins.
is working with Nexion
, a San Jose, Calif. based travel distribution company to make travel agents` work easier and more profitable by placing the inventory of multiple CRSs on a single platform without the heavy CRS contracts, and by handling time-consuming day-to-day functions of an agency.
Under the agreement, the Fort Worth, Tx.-based CRS, will offer its smaller agencies a cost-effective travel booking alterntive through Nexion and will work with agents currently under contract.
According to Ken Kearney, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Nexion, its customers in turn will have access to the suite of Sabre products and services, including FlightFinder fare lead pricing, Specialty Bookings, and AgentExplorer, using Nexion InternetView software. Sabre Cruises will be available in the near future.
“This is an option for customers caught in the bind of higher costs and lower commissions and its still provides a connection [to the CRS],” “this will help agents move into an environment that hopefully will allow them to be more profitable.”
Nexion has set up a joint Web site specifically for Sabre agents where they can find out more about the services and products Nexion offers and its commission structure.
Last April ITA (Internet Travel Agency) relaunched as Nexion, which aggregates the inventories of the major GDS as well the inventories of Pegasus and Hotel Quest as into a single switched network. It also offers Web-based services including ticketing, fulfillment, ARC reporting and accounting. Its products and services are meant to help travel agencies with sales of less than $5 million reduce operating expenses.
For smaller agencies a high percentage of their operating cost goes toward such daily functions. “For small agencies with one or two people just producing an ARC report is extremely time-consuming,” Kearny said.
For agents the time saves can be turned into additional customer service, sales, and possibly more profit. Nexion offers its Internet-based reservation service for a monthly flat-rate subscription. There are two versions of Nexion’s monthly service with prices of $49 or $99. Nexion also offers an option to sign on annually.
Last month Nexion introduced its third generation software, InternetView 3.0 InternetView 3.0 offers tile view, which presents all four major GDS’s on a single screen. Agents can view all inventory options on one screen and actively book in any GDS. Its Global PNR feature allows bookings from multiple GDS’s to be captured in a single record.
Nexion has also added scripting capabilities to its latest release, allowing agencies and corporations to develop customized scripts for their customers. The InternetView 3.0 screen includes “one touch” buttons along the bottom which allow users to select the individual GDS of their choice with a touch of a button, select multiple work areas, invoke a multi-query which automatically scans all GDS’s with a single command.
Agents can include customer profiles into in agency’s records with the new product. Profiles include all the information on the client including corporation policy requirements, customer preferences and frequent flyer information. Agents and travel managers handling large corporatate accounts can set and monitor policy compliance and control expense.
“We’ve found a real niche in small corporations that are doing $1-3 million in travel,” Kearney said. “You don’t need ARC number or ticketing access ... so you can hire agent and have them become you [corporate travel manager]. The commissions can become a profit center and The corporation provides employees with personalized service.”
For example, Kearney explained, if a corporation that does $1 million in air travel alone hires an agent at a $50,000 salary, with Nexion`s 6% commission, the corporation can pull in $70,000-$75,000 in commissions and the difference is profit.
In its latest release Nexion has also integrated a graphical cruise booking product. CLIA agencies can now access and book cruise inventories in a graphical format including ship maps and rate comparisons. This browser-based product provides agencies specializing in cruises the ability to use graphical user interfaces that require no command language experience.
Coinciding with the release of InternetView 3.0, Nexion released InternetView -Web 2.0 - JAVA, a product that Nexion subscribers can add for an additional monthly fee to access InternetView from any computer with Internet access.