Orbitz Joins AQUA Software to Enable Seamless Web Bookings

, the travel site backed by the
world`s leading airlines, today announced that it has signed an agreement with
AQUA Software Products
, a leading provider of desktop software for travel
agents, to offer direct booking access to Orbitz` web-based search engine and
inventory of low fares including desirable web-only fares.
“Industry data shows that approximately 15 percent of all travel purchases
are made online.  Even though this figure is increasing rapidly, it still
means that a large majority of travelers are booking through traditional
channels,” explains Jeff Katz
, president and CEO of Orbitz.  “The deal with
AQUA allows Orbitz to make our low cost travel options and breakthrough search
technology, capable of searching over 2 billion fares on more than 455
airlines, available to these offline travel purchasers.”
Global Distribution Systems, or GDSs, used by travel agents to book
reservations today do not have access to web-only fares.  The AQUA software
product will eventually allow travel agents to link their customers` travel
needs to Orbitz` database in order to conduct simultaneous, low fare searches
with those in the GDS, making it fast and simple to identify the best option
and price.  If Orbitz presents a better option, the agent will be able to make
the booking on Orbitz without requiring the agent or the customer to log on
separately to the Orbitz site.
“Other available travel agent web-fare search technology uses an
unreliable process called `screen scraping,` which gathers fare information in
an inefficient and often unauthorized way by scanning supplier web sites.
This process can be turned off by Web travel providers such as Orbitz,” said
Mark Ferguson, president of AQUA.  “We wanted our software to provide travel
agents with the first-ever direct link to the richest single-source offering
of low fares and we determined that the vast majority of airline discounts are
available on Orbitz.”
The AQUA software product will be particularly useful to corporate travel
managers who will be able to book web fares and still have access to the
passenger name record (PNR).  This allows companies, for the first time ever,
to have a seamless process for tracking web fares and consolidating them with
traditional bookings, which is vital information for a company to have when
negotiating volume agreements with the airlines.
“Escalating fees have made it prohibitive for the airlines to sell their
lowest fares through the GDSs, which are still used by most travel agents to
search and book tickets,” explains Sarah Woods, senior vice president of
account management for the southwest region of Navigant International.  “The
AQUA solution made possible by Orbitz will give travel agents the ability to
quickly and efficiently book a broader array of fares through software already
available on their desktop.”
When complete, this AQUA software will be available to all Navigant International travel professionals and will be available to other travel
agencies in the near future.  AQUA expects the first phase of software to be
ready for agent use by August.

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(25/02/2002) Technology Partnership Strengthened Between Worldspan & Orbitz