Ickenham Travel Group plc, one of the largest members of the Advantage Travel Centres consortium in the United Kingdom, has purchased an Advanta.Res Internet booking engine from Sabre Travel Network.
It will power travel bookings on Ickenham Travel’s website, www.ickenham-travel.co.uk
The product will give Ickenham Travel full control over its site design and content. The agency will be able to exclude travel providers, blacklist airports, set cancellation and service fees and generally determine what it wishes to sell on its site, and how it wants to sell it. It will also give the agency’s online customers access to all the negotiated fares available in the Sabre global distribution system (GDS).
Julie Oliver, group operations director of Ickenham Travel, said the company was expanding its bookable presence on the Internet to give customers the greatest possible choice of booking options.
“It was increasingly obvious that many of our customers wanted access to a complete online booking facility, incorporating the fullest possible range of fares and services, so we responded,” Oliver said.
David Brown, Sabre Travel Network’s director for the UK, Ireland and the Nordic region, said UK travel agencies were starting to realise how an online booking facility can improve customer service and retention, while generating additional revenue.
“Quite apart from the additional sales generated online, our customer statistics show that bookable websites also boost telephone sales enquiries by as much as 30 percent,” Brown said.
Online travel sales in Europe are booming, according to credit card company VISA. Travel agencies saw a 182 percent growth in online sales between Q1 2002 and Q1 this year. Online sales throughout the tourism and entertainment sector grew by 303 percent over the same period.
Sabre Travel Network is actively encouraging travel agents to build an online presence. In addition to developing the Sabre .Res suite of Internet booking engines, the company last year did a deal with Dublin-based interactive media agency Digital:CC, to provide an off-the-shelf website to travel agencies that want an Internet presence but do not have access to the necessary expertise.
Related stories on ITN:
(30/05/2003) Sabre Travel Network Training Approved By ICTA
(29/05/2003) ‘Focus on Sabre’ to Help Boost Agency Efficiency
(23/05/2003) Swedish Turbo Sabre Growth Initiative Pays Off