Dealing with the airlines as a passenger or as an agent is hardly hassle-free. So when your frequent flyer clients have specific preferences for how they travel, what extra efforts do you make to ensure a comfortable journey? Travel agents can improve the chances of landing a coveted seat location for such clients with the newly launched travel timesaver MySeatFinder (MSF), an online application that does all of the legwork for them.
Travel professionals who enroll their customers through MySeatFinder’s affiliate program will receive 25 percent commissions. The program is still in testing phase, and details can be found at http://agent.myseatfinder.com. A program for corporate travel agencies is still in development.
MySeatFinder adds value to a travel agency’s services while potentially reducing costs by eliminating the time it takes to improve seat assignments. Agency customers will be pleased – even inspired to be loyal – with the likelihood of negating the uncomfortable effects of corporate cost-cutting efforts that put employees in the cheap seats.
“Premium frequent flyers are getting fewer first class upgrades as the competition for these seats escalates and airlines try to fill planes,” said Tim Hadden, CEO of MySeatFinder. “With flights growing increasingly crowded and business travelers squeezing work into every spare moment, having their desired seat can make the difference between in-flight bliss and in-flight blues. We created MySeatFinder to help travel agents and frequent flyers lock in a better seat on the plane, as efficiently as possible.”
Frequent flyer members enroll at www.MySeatFinder.com and input their frequent flyer numbers and a profile declaring their seating preferences. Once they are in the system, MSF automatically goes to work searching for flights their travel agents have booked. It then uses the customer’s preferences to search for a better seat.
Flights that are booked after enrollment will be added under the My Flights tab. Using a proprietary technology the founders call Intelligent Seat Selector, the service continues looking, several times every day until the customer’s ultimate seat is booked or until the customer checks in. When it finds that coveted seat or a better seat than the original assignment, MySeatFinder books the traveler into that seat and e-mails notification, all automatically and without any action by the customer or the travel agent.
The process is completely automatic, requiring no checking or calling by the busy frequent flyer or travel agent, and it works with the frequent flyer programs of American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. The company plans to bring US Air, Continental and other airlines online soon. Frequent flyers can climb on board MySeatFinder for a $49 annual fee, after testing the service with a free 30-day trial available for a limited time.
Tim Hadden and Steve Gordon developed MySeatFinder in the days when Gordon, a Cisco executive, was flying back and forth from his San Jose home to Orange County to facilitate Cisco’s acquisition of Linksys. Gordon favored seat 11B on his regular flight (exit row + aisle = leg room!) and lamented to his friend that it often took several calls to the airline to land 11B. The pair, who had worked in information systems at Northwest Airlines years earlier, started brainstorming ways technology could come to his rescue, and MySeatFinder was born.