Today’s travel agents are the beneficiaries of constant innovation in new technology tools that promise and often deliver increased productivity, profitable growth and real gains in the delivery of service quality to the traveling public.
The newest tool is Vacation.com’s EZguider booking platform, the first phase of which was introduced during the recent Vacation.com 10th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. EZguider is not just a technology platform, but also a selling support system that will make the professional agent’s marketing job easier.
What It Is
“EZguider is clearly a significant advancement for our membership, as it offers a dedicated booking engine connecting preferred suppliers on one desktop platform,” says Steve Tracas, president and CEO of Vacation.com. The tool was further described as a “fully integrated leisure-focused selling system and booking platform” that was designed exclusively for
Vacation.com agents to sell preferred supplier products.
Tracas said that Vacation.com is taking the required time to “get it right” and will do the same during the implementation over the next year as EZguider comes online. Tracas told Travel Agent that he is going to listen to agents and suppliers every step of the way.
EZguider is free to members and member agencies are being offered booking-based incentives as high as $1,000 in the first 12 months after they begin using EZguider. Agents will also get strong education and training support to help them implement EZguider.
EZguider will give agents the ability to research, plan, quote and book comprehensive cruise, tour, insurance and ancillary travel products in an all-in-one, easy-to-use Internet-based site. Multiple booking capabilities of tour, cruise, insurance, add-ons and potentially air (to be implemented later this year), with a diverse variety of suppliers has not previously been available in a single travel agent desktop tool anywhere in North America.
EZguider will help agents manage the volume and complexity of bookings and will deliver value to agents and suppliers. And, critical for agents, it is both user-friendly and integrable with other technologies such as TRAMS ClientBase.
The platform features web-based access from any Internet-connected computer; fast, efficient and intuitive search; side-by-side product comparison; best value pricing; and other assets. This includes integration with other software already in use by member agencies. There are also sales tracking controls valuable to agent and agency.
Significant too is the constant input of experienced agents, including Vacation.com’s Advisory Board. “We developed a product to address the key needs of our diverse membership that will continue to evolve throughout the year with more preferred suppliers, features and functionality,” Tracas says.
“We are introducing this product to our members on a measured timetable,” he adds. “We will continue to add more features and benefits, assessing our progress, adding more functionality, more members and reassessing our progress over the course of the year.”
There are a few additional perks as well that enhance travel agents’ jobs beyond the technical aspects. For example, according to EZguider’s website, the tool “includes a complete listing of Vacation Vignettes, unique travel packages filled with complimentary value-added extras that can only be sold by member agencies.”
On Tap for EZGuider
Tracas also has a goal to provide scheduled air displays via EZguider by year-end for those members who do not have access to a traditional GDS. Agents will access EZguider via the AgentNet desktop.
“It’s a very large project for a diverse membership, but it is the right project at the right time to support our members. We will deliver the tools to make them more productive and help cut through the clutter of so many products and options now available to the consumer.
“Technology will always be an enabler to help travel professionals be more efficient,” Tracas notes. “It can never replace the experience and knowledge so many agents provide clients. But technology coupled with the agents wealth of experience can be a very powerful combination.”