It will be all about relationships when agents, suppliers and technologists convene here May 20 to 22 for the Travel Weekly
Conference: Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch 2002.
Sure, there will be plenty of networking and personal interaction, but the kind of relationships at the core of the conference will be of the customer relationship management (CRM) variety.
If you are baffled by bits and bytes, fear not, said conference coordinator Scott Ahlsmith, former chief operating officer of TRAMS and current chief executive officer of Magellan Travel Technologies.
Ahlsmith prides himself on translating the sometimes-obtuse verbiage of techno-geeks into practical terms and agency action plans.
So what is CRM then? It`s being able to improve agency technology to hone relationships with clients despite the competitive advantages and mind-boggling budgets of major players.
So, whenTravelocity.com becomes a wholesaler and creates air-inclusive vacation packages with Disney, your agency will have an answer.
Or when Expedia gobbles up Classic Custom Vacations, your agency will be able to retain customers with Waikiki on their minds.
One key CRM priority for agents, said Ahlsmith, is to improve technology so the agency is accessible to clients—whether through a chat session or phone call—in minutes, rather than hours.
Then, there is the database management arena, where agencies can track what clients “purchased in the past and what they prefer to purchase in the future,” Ahlsmith said.
The conference, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, will be organized around general sessions and specialized learning tracks, including database management, marketing and operations.
Each track has four workshops, but the schedule is organized so attendees will be able to attend six workshops or “a track-and-a-half.”
CRM concepts will be introduced in general sessions and then delegates can attend the breakout sessions for more nitty-gritty instruction.
From there, attendees will see the CRM tools in action at the trade show and meet consultants to sort out the products` applicability.
A keynote address at the closing general session will be delivered by Lee Olsen, an internationally renowned e-commerce pioneer who coined the phrase “multimedia computing” during his more than two-decade tenure with IBM.
Olsen, an e-business consultant for governments and corporations, has given speeches in 60 countries and presented white papers to more than 400 organizations, conventions and other meetings.