Travel sciences (www.travelsciences.com), a technology company based in hartford, ct, recently debuted a web-based customer relationship management and back-office tool for travel agents, entering a market already occupied by the likes of ClientBase Plus and others. How will Travel Sciences' OpenTravel CRM (www.opentravelcrm.com) stack up against the legacy competition? Well, for starters, it's free. The home page of OpenTravel CRM at www.travelsciences.com
"We looked at Google, and what they are doing is putting out software tools for free that people can leverage and that model is rapidly changing the market," says Joseph Mazzarella, president and CEO of Travel Sciences.
"We said we've got to come up with a solution that's headed in the direction of what the rest of the world is doing, which is moving more towards an open model with people buying best-of-breed components of software."
And so OpenTravel CRM was born. The tool offers customer relationship and profile management, e-marketing, trip planning, custom itineraries, commission tracking and reporting and accounting-interfacing functions, using what Mazzarella deems unobtrusive supplier advertising to monetarily support the venture.
OpenTravel currently is plugged into a number of suppliers, including Galileo Cruise (www.galileo.com) and the 70,000 hotels offered by Pegasus Solutions (www.pegs.com), as well as various airlines and car rental companies.
Social Networking Functionality
Another unique feature of the tool is its Web 2.0 social networking capabilities. Integrated into OpenTravel CRM is blogging software; Skype, an Internet-based telephone service; and instant messaging capabilities. "Part of being successful is interacting with the people who you want to do business with," Mazzarella explains.
Mazzarella says the solution already has roughly 500 users and continues to grow day by day, despite a lack of advertising. "We're flabbergasted at the response we're getting, but I guess the price is right," he jokes.
That doesn't mean the tool isn't in need of fine-tuning. OpenTravel CRM is still in beta-testing mode, so Travel Sciences is currently pursuing feedback from users. "People want more training, which is expected," Mazzarella says. "We've started doing some online training and we've had a couple of webinars set up, plus we have how-to videos set up on the web site, but we know we've got to do more." At press time, dates for further webinars had yet to be set, so continue to check OpenTravel CRM's web site for more info.
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