Sceptre Ireland have launched a real-time Internet booking engine for air, accommodations, vacation packages and car rental products.
The tour operator devised a private-labeling feature whereby agencies can offer Sceptre`s booking engine capability and access to its full product line via their own Web sites.
Trip documentation for such online bookings sent to consumers bears both the Sceptre and agency names, and commissions are paid directly to the agent.
Nearly 200 travel agents now use the free program, and 1,000 are expected to enroll by the end of 2002, said Bert Accomando, president of Sceptre Ireland.
“We`re getting 10 to 12 signing up every day,” he said.
Under development for more than two years, the revamped SceptreIreland.com site offers immediate access to Sceptre`s internal inventory and—because it doesn`t search outside sites for competing rates—is faster than many other online booking engines, according to the company.
Agents booking on line with Sceptre can check the status of existing reservations and whether documents were issued, apply payments to bookings and track total numbers of their agency`s transactions.
To stimulate agency interest, Accomando initiated a booking incentives program, ranging from “higher commissions to preferred agency agreements that carry other benefits,” in order to spur use of electronic reservations.
As an added savings to travel agencies, Sceptre waves Federal Express document shipping fees for all online bookings.
“My cost savings I won`t know till the end of this year, but the immediate savings to agents are considerable” in terms of staffing, work hours and paperwork, Accomando said.
Sceptre hopes eventually to save on staffing and transaction costs. “Margins for everyone are getting tighter and tighter,” he said.
Consumers also save with Web-only pricing, with cars on SceptreIreland.com “renting from 12% to 25% cheaper than off line,” said Accomando.
At press time, rooms at more than 127 hotels in Ireland, flights from all Aer Lingus airport gateways to Ireland and rentals of 15 types of automobile were bookable on the Web site, with online bed-and-breakfast and tour reservations on tap for the end of January.