Durnstein along the Danube, one of the destinations visited by AmaWaterways // All photos by Susan J. Young
On December 2, AmaWaterways (www.amawaterways.com) is launching a new online travel booking engine for travel agents. Travel Agent caught up with Walter Littlejohn, III, vice president of reservations, AmaWaterways, to briefly chat about the new technology and benefits for the trade.
With more than 97 percent of the line’s sales coming via travel agency sales, the river line must assure that agents have the tools they need to successfully complete the sale, said Littlejohn. The new online booking engine is one of those new tools, as is AmaWaterways' recent launch of live inventory in Sabre Cruise Tool.
Several agencies have been beta testing the online booking engine for two months. Their experiences and feedback have been incorporated into tweaks in the technology.
On December 2, the booking engine tool will launch through the line's travel agent online portal: www.amawaterways.com/agent.
Through that portal and the new booking engine, agents now have 24-7 access to nearly all inventory (except Africa sailings as those have not yet been loaded).
Agents will see full pricing and availability for the line’s portfolio of products including the cruise and any land extensions.
In addition, agents can do easy research for clients based on a number of different criteria such as by ship, by destination, by itinerary and by travel date.
Kelly Graves of AmaWaterways attended the recent Cruise Holidays conference to assist agents.
“Our new travel agent booking engine is very simple, essentially point and click,” said Littlejohn. He said most agents won’t need training, but the line will post a 15-minute Webinar online about how to use it, just in case someone needs assistance.
Littlejohn emphasized that the travel industry has progressed far beyond 9 to 5 hours, with many agents talking with clients about their future vacation plans either during evening hours or on weekends.
“These tools are excellent for agents to get back to their clients without waiting for our office to open,” Littlejohn said. “Agents can service their clients much better by getting information to them properly.”
AmaWaterways will also introduce more enhancements to the online booking tool in January, he said. But generally, don’t expect big waves of updates, as Littlejohn's view is that the booking engine will be continually updated and finetune.
“Agents have been playing with it in beta testing, giving additional feedback in different phases, so it will constantly evolve,” said Littlejohn. There is no charge for use of the tool.