The travel industry may be in the midst of an economic downturn but successful host agencies, including MTravel.com, a subsidiary of Montrose Travel, are expanding investments in agent-friendly technology. The bottom-line: higher productivity, better client service and increased profitability for independent home-based agents.
“Effective technology that saves busy agents time and money ranks high among the reasons professional home based agents chose to affiliate with a Montrose Travel as their host agency. Smart agents know smart technology greatly helps them and helps their client,” Andi Mysza, president of MTravel.com said in an interview with Travel Agent.
A good example is MTravel.com’s newly enhanced proprietary agent support site, Agent Connex, which is designed to serve MTravel.com’s 500, independent agents. Agent Connex is part of the host’s technology package that targets its growing base of business minded agents.
Agent Connex offers new user-friendly capabilities including an easy to follow menu, search functions to find information instantly, enhanced online personal sales and commission statistics and new accounting modules. “We have consolidated the information and tools agents need into one application– especially important to new agents,” Mysza says.
Agent Connex is content rich. It helps agents with a variety of tasks from operating procedures to training, marketing, sales ideas, group formation and support as well as commission tracking to blast email tools and FAQ’s. It also includes tools such as destination guides and objective hotel reviews.
The dynamic accounting tools eliminate double work when reporting bookings for commission payments, for example, and an invoicing feature is forthcoming. An enhanced training calendar has also been added with a response function for attendees. In addition, Agent Connex has a complete training archive for those agents who are unable to attend the live sessions. These files can be downloaded to an iPod.
Mingle, the new social networking site, is a clear winner with an early adoption rate of 40 percent of all agents after just 60 days. “We’re encouraged by the early usage of Mingle and believe it will play an important role in agent interaction down the road. Agents also get to know our staffers who support their business”, says Mysza.
Among the features of Mingle is the networking capability that puts agents into contact with other MTravel.com agents and encourages dialogue and sharing of ideas and answering questions. One result cited by Mysza is the formation of niche groups that were sparked by inter personal agent-to-agent contact via Mingle.
Another feature benefiting MTravel.com agents is Agent Connex's ability to communicate with and train agents. Mysza notes that MTravel.com agents benefit from over 150 webinars annually on every topic including supplier product presentations, development of sales skills and marketing.
“Agents who use MTravel’s resources effectively generally benefit with increased productivity and profitability. Agent Connex empowers them whether they are selling cruises, tours, groups or serving corporate clients,” Mysza says.
MTravel.com also offers its agents Client Connex, a free and powerful proprietary database and marketing tool. “Travel agents prefer to keep their client data within their own hands," Myza says. "And, with the knowledge that marketing is essential to growing their business, MTravel.com agents can maintain total control over their client data. E-mail marketing can be done by the agent at their convenience, anywhere with an internet connection.”
Technology also gives MTravel.com agents the ability to serve and compete for corporate clients. Montrose Travel offers CliqBook, an online tool for corporate customers as well as MontroseCorp, for smaller, unmanaged corporate accounts.
Other corporate oriented technology includes FlightStats for clients to track their flights and receive notification of significant delays or cancellations on their itinerary.
Also launched is Travel GPA that enables corporate customers to assess how well their travel program is being managed, while MTravel.com’s CorpConnect Portal offers a one-stop resource for travel information.
Private labeled websites are another key feature of MTravel.com’s program. This includes online booking by consumers for air, hotel, car, cruise and dynamic packaging. Online pricing includes web, consolidator and published airfares, as well as discounted hotel, car and cruise pricing. Travelport’s Galileo is their primary global distribution system provider.
Mysza believes that MTravel.com’s decision to develop and invest in its own proprietary technologies allows MTravel.com to tailor, customize and control its company’s tech evolution rather than replaying on third party systems. “We can also respond to agents needs more quickly. We have a strong IT staff who ensure we remain on the leading edge.”
MTravel.com has the advantage of being part of Montrose Travel with sales in excess of $110 million and a strong track record of performance and solid financing. An Ensemble Travel member, Montrose Travel has six divisions in addition to MTravel.com that agents can tap into for support, including leisure/honeymoons, corporate, entertainment, groups and incentives.
Mysza notes that travel agents must be aware of the evolution of how client’s research and book travel and remain competitive. “One key goal is to build a sense of community among our agents and give them technology tools that fit their personal needs. We will continue to invest in technology and expect the net result to be increased productivity, profitability and superior service quality for leisure and corporate agents.”
Visit www.MTravel.com or e-mail [email protected].