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Bidding on BusinessAugust 4, 2008 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
Compete 4 Your Seat lets agents vie for clients
In recent issues, Travel Agent has featured numerous social networking websites that can connect agents with potential clients. But perhaps no networking site we’ve seen more directly applies to agents than Compete 4 Your Seat. Unlike other travel-minded websites, Compete 4 Your Seat exists solely to match up travelers with the agents who can serve their specific needs best.
The concept is simple: A traveler registers on the site, and posts the details of his or her dream trip. Agents can then log in and peruse all the desired vacations listed (searching by city, country, class of service and date of departure), and can submit bids for trips they know they can put together. The traveler will be notified whenever his or her trip gets a bid, and can check the website to see what it is. Once the connection has been made, clients and agents are free to call or e-mail each other to negotiate terms, just as in any other transaction. There is no obligation for the customer to accept any bid (unlike, say, Priceline.com), and only the client can remove the listing when a deal has been struck. Best of all, the site is free for both clients and agents to use. The fee and/or commission would be negotiated between the client, the agent and the suppliers.
Convenience With Personal Care
Compete 4 Your Seat was created by Todd Frazer, a 30-year travel industry veteran. As an agent, he watched with concern as do-it-yourself travel became popular with the convenience of the Internet. “I knew that travel agents would always exist,” Frazer recalls, “so I tried to figure how can they exist in a cyber world.” His solution was to create a “matching” website that would allow clients to find the agents that most suited their needs.
“I contacted my brother-in-law, who is a computer software developer, and I explained my idea to him,” he continues. “In a short time, he took my paper descriptions on how the site should look and created our website. Jonathan Lynn and I are now full partners in the site.”
Compete 4 Your Seat combines the convenience of Internet travel websites with the personal care and intelligence of a human being. Unlike a traditional travel site, an agent can negotiate and finagle to get the best possible deal for a client. A website can only offer what the supplier has pre-determined, sometimes long before the client logs in.
Networking for Deals
“I know that over the years, different travel agents, consolidators and wholesalers have negotiated prices with various airlines, hotels and car companies,” Frazer says. “These travel suppliers don’t really advertise to the public that they are able to offer much better deals than the major websites. So why not bring this group of talented suppliers to the public?”
So far, 42,000 travelers (“and growing by the minute”) and 385 agents (“and growing each day”) have registered with the site. There are currently more than 10,000 trips up for bid. As new members join, Frazer says, “the site will give the consumer a great new source to obtain discount airfares and meet new travel agents. The travel agents will get a pool of unlimited free leads in first, business and coach class.” Ultimately, he says, Compete 4 Your Seat “will bring the travel agents to the Internet and introduce them to a host of new customers around the globe, and the travel agent will now have business that they never had.”