TRX and Gelco Information Network agreed to integrate TRX`s self-booking tool for government agencies with Gelco`s automated, pretrip approval application.
A few government agencies - including the Transportation Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - already have installed ResAssist, TRX`s booking tool, and Travel Manager, Gelco`s software.
Travel Manager features a rules-based approval engine informing the traveler of appropriate government air fares and hotel per-diem rates eligible for reimbursement.
Barry Kahn, director of travel management for HUD, said integration of the two applications is essential to increase adoption rates for online booking.
Government travelers must receive approval from a supervisor for every business trip.
Without the integration of the two products, a traveler must search for an air fare, hotel and rental car on ResAssist, then fill out an electronic authorization form on Travel Manager and send it to the supervisor.
When the supervisor approves a trip, the traveler goes back into ResAssist and submits the itinerary for ticketing.
Integration skips a step, said Kahn. When the traveler completes an itinerary on the booking tool, that information will appear on the authorization form, eliminating the need for a traveler to fill out the form manually.
Kahn said making the booking tool as convenient as possible for HUD`s travelers is a “no-brainer.”
“The cost savings for online booking is overwhelming—it`s almost one-tenth of the cost of a telephone booking,” he said.
A traditional agency booking consists of at least two phone calls by the government traveler. First, the traveler must call the agency for a price quote, then submit an authorization form—electronically if the government agency uses Gelco`s Travel Manager—and await approval. Once approved, the traveler then calls back the agent to book.
Since TRX introduced a booking tool specifically for government travelers about two years ago, government agencies have expressed a need for a more complete solution, said Steve Reynolds, TRX`s chief technology officer.
And because many government agencies—about 120, according to Gelco—already use Travel Manager to automate pretrip approvals, forming a partnership with Gelco made a lot of sense, Reynolds added.
HUD, with some 9,000 travelers that collectively take approximately 30,000 business trips annually, is perhaps one of the most technologically advanced government agencies in travel, according to Gelco.
HUD already integrated Travel Manager with Sabre, the reservations platform used by HUD`s travel agency, Arlington, Va.-based SatoTravel. This integration also eliminates telephone calls, even for traditional bookings.
The system transfers data automatically from Travel Manager directly to the CRS. At Sato, the agent is alerted that there is a reservation in the queue that`s been approved for ticketing.